Worker connects injuries with fall at work rather than incident at home
Case name: Acker v. Whole Foods Market, No. COA12-757 (N.C. Ct. App. 01/15/13).
The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that a worker was entitled to medical compensation, average weekly wage compensation, and temporary partial disability payments for her injury to her knee, hip, and back.
What it means:
In North Carolina, medical testimony that a work incident aggravated an alleged preexisting condition can establish that the worker's condition was related to the work incident.
A worker in the meat department of a grocery store was carrying trays of chicken out of a walk-in cooler when her left foot became entangled in some shelving. She landed on her right leg, which became swollen. She was later diagnosed with an extensive post-traumatic bone bruise and a tear in her meniscus. She sought workers' compensation benefits. The store denied her claim on the ground that her symptoms were not caused by the work incident, but by an accident that she had at her home one week before. The worker had stepped in a hole in her backyard and twisted her left ankle. The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that the worker was entitled to benefits.
The court pointed out that an independent medical examination doctor said that even if the medial meniscus tear pre-dated the work incident, the work incident aggravated any preexisting condition. The court found this was a "clear statement" that regardless of any prior conditions the worker's condition was related to the work accident. The worker's treating physician said that he could not know whether the incident in the worker's backyard was a cause for her conditions. The court pointed out that the store did not present medical testimony contradicting the worker's evidence of a causal relationship.
The court noted that the worker denied that the incident in her backyard involved her right knee, left hip, or back. She also did not require medical treatment as a result of the incident.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
May 6, 2013
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