Case name: Miller v. Catholic Charity Community Service, No. 107,105 (Kan. Ct. App. 08/17/12, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Kansas Court of Appeals held that a personal care attendant was entitled to compensation for the aggravation of her preexisting condition.
What it means: In Kansas, evidence that a worker only began to experience problems related to a preexisting condition after a work accident can show that the accident aggravated her preexisting condition.
Summary: A personal care attendant was paid to drive to clients' homes. She finished with her first client of the day and was driving to her next client when she was involved in a car accident. While stopped at an intersection, another vehicle struck her from behind. She reported immediate pain in her lower back and left shoulder. Despite the pain, she went on to the next client. She felt pain while assisting the client. After finishing with the client, she sought medical treatment. She was diagnosed with degenerative changes in her spine. She eventually stopped working because she was having difficulty with her job. She sought benefits. The Kansas Court of Appeals held that she was entitled to compensation for the aggravation of her preexisting condition.
The court found that the attendant sustained a compensable injury. The employer argued that the attendant's impairment was not a result of the car accident but was caused by the natural aging process and normal activities of a person with degenerative disk disease. The employer's doctors said that her weight, age, and poor posture could lead to degenerative disk disease, but they did not present evidence that the accident did not aggravate her condition. The attendant's doctor opined that the car accident aggravated her degenerative disk disease. The attendant said she had no problem performing her work duties for two years before the accident.
The court also found that the attendant's work-related injury caused increased disability. The court found it was apparent that her back problems only started to affect her ability to work after the accident.
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November 12, 2012
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