Mechanic's predisposition to retinal detachment blocks benefits
Avila v. Industrial Commission of Arizona, No. 1 CA-IC 12-0052 (Ariz. Ct. App. 04/16/13, unpublished).
In an unpublished decision, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that a mechanic was not entitled to benefits for his eye injury.
What it means:
In Arizona, medical opinions that a worker was predisposed to a condition can prevent a finding that his condition was causally related to a work incident.
Summary: A mechanic was in the break room when his supervisor came up behind him, put both hands on his eyes, and pressed hard. The mechanic remained at work but noticed blurred vision and watering in both eyes and redness in his left eye. Two days later, he began to see flashing and a shadow in the field of vision in his left eye. An ophthalmologist diagnosed a retinal detachment in his left eye and performed surgery. The mechanic had previously undergone surgeries for a cataract and to repair a retinal detachment in his left eye with no problems after the surgeries. The mechanic sought workers' compensation. The Arizona Court of Appeal held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The mechanic argued that the employer's doctor's opinion that the detachment was unrelated to the work incident should be given lesser weight because the doctor did not physically examine him. The court explained that the doctor did not investigate the claim until two months after the mechanic underwent surgery. A physical examination after surgery would have added nothing to the doctor's causation opinion.
The mechanic argued that the incident must have caused the retinal detachment because he had no symptoms before the incident. The court noted that the mechanic's doctor and the employer's doctor both acknowledged the possibility of a spontaneous detachment to which the mechanic was predisposed because of his history of cataract surgery. The court concluded that the mechanic's condition lacked industrial causation.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 22, 2013
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