Worker's ability to perform light, sedentary work nixes PTD benefits
Case name: Rendell v. Arkansas Children's Hospital, No. CA 12-214 (Ark. Ct. App. 09/26/12).
Ruling: The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that a worker was not entitled to permanent total disability benefits.
What it means: In Arkansas, an injured worker must prove that he is incapable of earning any meaningful wage to be entitled to PTD benefits.
Summary: A worker for a hospital slipped while cleaning a storage room and sustained a compensable spinal cord injury. He underwent fusion surgery and rehabilitation therapy. A functional capacity evaluation was conducted, and the disability analyst concluded that the worker was capable of performing "light" work.
The worker sought permanent total disability benefits or wage-loss benefits. A vocational evaluation found that it would be challenging for him to return to work because of his physical limitations and lack of a driver's license, but he could perform light or sedentary work such as short-order cook, gatekeeper, or production assembly. The Arkansas Court of Appeals held that he was not entitled to PTD benefits.
The court found that the worker did not meet his burden of proving that he was unable to earn any meaningful wage. Although the worker stated that his physical condition and mental abilities were so poor that he could not work, the functional capacity evaluation and vocational evaluation concluded that he could work in a light or sedentary capacity. The worker refused a sedentary job but was able to engage in daily household activities and modest exercise.
The court also noted that there was no evidence that the worker could not find employment in or successfully perform the types of jobs listed in his vocational evaluation because he never attempted to apply for any job after his injury.
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January 3, 2013
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