Officer's history of shoulder problems fails to block finding of compensability
Case name: Lanas v. City of Chicago, 20 ILWCLB 137 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2012).
Ruling: The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission held that an officer properly established a causal connection between his right shoulder condition and a work accident despite evidence that he had a history of shoulder problems.
What it means: In Illinois, evidence that a worker's problems with his preexisting degenerative joint disease resolved prior to his work accident, along with the absence of medical records of treatment for nearly a year preceding the accident, constitutes convincing evidence that his current problems are attributable to his recent work injury.
Summary: A police officer was working in a guard station checking the identity of vehicles. A vehicle struck the booth, throwing him against the back wall. He struck his head, bounced off the back wall, and fell forward striking his right shoulder. He had significant preexisting problems with his shoulder, including degenerative joint disease. The workers' compensation arbitrator found that the officer's condition was not causally connected to the work accident. The arbitrator found he failed to prove that his preexisting right shoulder condition was aggravated, exacerbated, or accelerated by the work accident.
The commission reversed the arbitrator's finding and determined that a causal connection existed between the officer's right shoulder condition and his work accident. The commission pointed out that there were no records of treatment for the officer's right shoulder during the 11 months preceding this accident. Although he had preexisting degenerative joint disease in his shoulder before this injury, prior problems resolved with minimal treatment. The officer's treating doctor addressed all elements of the claimant's shoulder condition before finding a connection between the work injury and the shoulder condition.
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November 29, 2012
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