Worker's failure to mention nonwork-related fall foils benefits
Sherwood v. Art Floor, Inc., No. N12A-03-010 PLA (Del. Super. Ct. 09/18/12).
The Delaware Superior Court held that a worker was not entitled to compensation for his hand and elbow injuries.
What it means: In Delaware, a worker's failure to tell a doctor about a prior nonwork-related injury to the same body part for which he claimed compensation will undermine the doctor's finding of causation.
A worker was injured when he fell while working in the course and scope of his employment. He received benefits for a back injury. Three weeks before the work injury, the worker fell off a ladder at his home while he was putting up Christmas lights. Before the work injury, he went to the hospital with complaints of pain and numbness in his hand. For one year after the work injury, he did not mention problems with his hand or elbow to the employer. He underwent surgery on his hand and elbow, which relieved his pain. The worker sought additional compensation for his hand and elbow injuries. An independent medical examiner, who was not aware of the worker's fall at his home, concluded that the hand injury was related to his fall at work. The Delaware Superior Court held that the worker was not entitled to benefits for his hand and elbow injuries.
The court found that the worker failed to prove that his hand and elbow injuries were causally related to his work injury. The worker's doctor admitted that he based his finding of causation on the worker's reports, which omitted the fall at home and hospital treatment for his hand. The court said that the worker's "deliberate exclusion of vital health information" from the physicians, his lack of health insurance, and his "dire" financial circumstances supported a conclusion that he was attempting to conceal his prior hand injury so that he could receive workers' compensation benefits.
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December 17, 2012
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