8-year gap in treatment undermines connection with work injury
Case name: Rogers v. State of Wyoming, ex rel.
Wyoming Workers' Safety and Compensation Division, No. S-12-0001 (Wyo. 09/07/12).
The Wyoming Supreme Court held that a carpenter was not entitled to benefits for his chiropractic treatment eight years after a work injury.
What it means: In Wyoming, a subsequent injury is compensable if it is causally related to the initial compensable work injury.
Summary: A carpenter slipped on ice and fell down a flight of stairs, injuring his shoulder, elbow, and back. A CT scan revealed no evidence of a fracture, and the carpenter was prescribed pain medicine and physical therapy. Later, an MRI revealed degenerative disk disease. The carpenter received chiropractic care. He did not submit bills for medical benefits for six years. The carpenter said he continued to have back pain but treated himself with over-the-counter medications, an adjustable bed, and a hot tub. He sought treatment with a chiropractor, who diagnosed him with lumbago, thoracic spine pain, and muscle spasms. The carpenter sought benefits for his visits to the chiropractor. The Wyoming Supreme Court held that he was not entitled to benefits.
There was no dispute that the carpenter suffered a compensable injury when he slipped on ice and fell down stairs. However, the court found that he did not show that his treatment eight years later was the result of his prior work-related injury.
The carpenter's doctor opined that it was more likely than not that his issues were related to the work injury but said it was difficult to know for sure without a new MRI. The chiropractor's notes did not identify a specific area of injury. There was conflicting testimony about whether the carpenter told the chiropractor that he fell off a ladder, inferring that his problems were not related to the work injury. The court also pointed out that the carpenter did not seek treatment until eight years after his compensable injury.
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December 3, 2012
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