Case name: Bracey v. City of Alexandria, No. 13-16 (La. Ct. App. 06/05/13).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a firefighter was entitled to temporary total disability benefits for his hip injury.
What it means: In Louisiana, a worker's complaints of pain on the date of the accident and several days later can support a finding of causation.
Summary: A firefighter for a city claimed that he injured his right leg and hip when he stepped into a hole while cutting grass at the fire station. Within minutes of the accident, he reported the incident to his supervisor and filled out an accident report. A physician diagnosed him with a strained right bicep femorous. He was released to return to work but continued to have pain. He was later diagnosed with a torn labrum and sought authorization for an MRI that was recommended by another doctor. The Louisiana Court of Appeal authorized the MRI and found that he was entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
The court rejected the city's argument that the firefighter returned to full duty and was not in need of additional medical care until he was involved in a nonwork-related automobile accident six months later. The firefighter claimed that he was still suffering pain when he was released to full duty.
The court also pointed out that the firefighter's medical records indicated that less than one week after the work incident, he had pain in his hip that increased when he twisted in a certain way. The court found that the firefighter established causation.
The court found that the city's continued resistance to recognize the validity of the firefighter's claim that his hip pain was attributable to his work accident and its failure to authorize further medical care was arbitrary and capricious. Therefore, he was entitled to penalties and attorney's fees.
A dissenting judge opined that the firefighter's work injury was only a minor strain and that his hip injury was caused by an unrelated incident.
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August 26, 2013
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