Case name: Jennings v. Avon Products, No. N11A-08-005 WCC (Del. Super. Ct. 01/04/13).
Ruling: The Delaware Superior Court held that a worker's injuries were not permanent.
What it means: In Delaware, when determining whether a worker was permanently injured, it must be decided whether he suffered a permanent loss of use of a member or part of his body and whether the loss of use was caused by a work accident.
Summary: A warehouse worker sustained injuries when a coworker dropped a 13-pound box on his head. Diagnostic tests did not reveal abnormalities, but he suffered from headaches, ringing in his ears, and feeling off-balance. The employer's workers' compensation carrier paid him total disability benefits while he was unable to work. The worker sought additional compensation for permanent injuries to his brain, head, cervical spine, and vestibular system. The Delaware Superior Court held that he did not sustain permanent injuries.
The worker suffered neck pain after the accident, but a CT scan and MRI appeared normal. Two doctors differed as to the impairment rating. He had degenerative changes to the spine that were normal for his age. He also had a full range of motion. The court found he was not permanently impaired with respect to his cervical spine.
He was also not permanently impaired with respect to his vestibular system. He was capable of walking, rarely experienced vertigo, and was able to operate a motor vehicle.
The court also found that he was not permanently impaired with respect to his head. The headaches declined in frequency and were not severe. He was not permanently impaired with respect to his brain because he did not provide evidence of verifiable neurological problems.
The workers' compensation carrier paid for medical expenses and treatment for more than two years after the accident. The worker asserted that permanency should be presumed due to the length of time benefits were paid. The court disagreed, stating that medical testimony supported the finding of no permanent impairment.
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April 1, 2013
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