Medical evidence indicating complaints before work accident foils benefits
Douglas v. Heart's Desire, L.L.C., No. 47,596-WCA (La. Ct. App. 01/16/13).
The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a sitter was not entitled to benefits for her back injury.
What it means: In Louisiana, evidence that a worker sought treatment for pain one month before the alleged work-related accident will make it difficult for the worker to show a causal relationship between the work incident and her injury.
A sitter for a provider of home services helped a patient exit a vehicle. The patient slipped, and when she helped him up, she felt a "pop" in her back. She sought medical treatment two weeks later, complaining of numbness in her right thigh, with an indication of low back pain. Later, she informed her supervisor of the alleged work-related accident and sought workers' compensation benefits. An MRI revealed a disk protrusion and a disk bulge. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The sitter said that before the accident, she never experienced back problems or pain or problems with her thigh. The court found that her medical records showed that she had multiple complaints about her thigh and back four years before the accident. One month before the accident, she complained of "lumber pain" and "hip pain." Five days before the accident, she was referred to an EMG/nerve conduction study that led to her MRI. The same medical code was listed on the billing summary for the sitter's medical appointments before and after the accident.
The sitter's patient said that she grunted when she helped him to his feet, but she didn't show signs of pain. The court said that although she grunted, this had "little bearing" on whether she experienced a sudden event that led to her claimed disability. The evidence led the court to speculate whether she was injured at another time or suffered a gradual deterioration rather than a sudden onset work-related injury. The court concluded that the sitter did not show a causal relationship between the accident and the disability.
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April 15, 2013
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