Inconsistencies in wireman's testimony curb benefits for back injury
Case name: Rostrop v. Gray Insurance Co., No. 12-CA-554 (La. Ct. App. 04/10/13).
The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a wireman was not entitled to benefits for his back injury.
What it means: In Louisiana, a worker can prove that an unwitnessed incident occurred in the course and scope of his employment by his testimony alone if he shows that no other evidence discredits his version of the incident and his testimony is corroborated by the circumstances following the alleged incident.
A journeyman wireman was installing conduits that weighed 100 pounds at a hospital. He was on a ladder when an apprentice handed him a pipe that he had to lift and slide down a pipe rack. He felt pain in his lower back and told the apprentice that he hurt his back. The same day, he alleged that he almost fell on top of a cart that flipped over in front of him. He said that a coworker witnessed the incident, and he told the coworker that he hurt his back. He did not immediately report the incident to his supervisor. The next day, he called the office manager and told her he could not work because he injured himself at work. The manager informed the wireman's supervisor, and he indicated that he was unaware of any injury. The wireman sought workers' compensation benefits. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that he was not entitled to benefits.
The court found that the wireman failed to prove that he sustained a work-related injury. The court explained that inconsistencies in his testimony "cast suspicion on the reliability of his testimony." The court noted that he called his employer's office on the day of his injury but did not report an accident or injury. Instead, he asked about a holiday party. The wireman asserted that he did not know how to report an injury, but he had a prior workers' compensation claim. The supervisor said that he was at the job site all day, and the wireman could have reported the accident that day.
The court also pointed out that although the wireman said that he told the apprentice that he hurt his back, the apprentice did not testify. The coworker said that he did not see an accident with a cart that flipped over and he did not recall the wireman saying that he was hurt.
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July 22, 2013
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