Oct 31st, 2017
Sometimes causation is a slam dunk. By causation, I mean, there is a clear connection between the work activity, the injury, and the resulting symptoms. For example, an 18 year old roofer, in perfect health, falls from a roof while laying shingles, and breaks his leg. There is no doubt he was working at the time, he fell, the fall lead to a fracture, he has had no prior problems with his leg. Here, causation is a slam dunk.
Take, however, the 65 year old man who is about to retire. He suffers a back injury while stepping into his work pick up truck. He has seen a chiropractor recently for back pain, he has had an MRI in the past showing arthritic changes in his spine. There are several problems here. First, though he was at work, he was simply getting into a truck, an average sized pick-up. Let’s say he drives the same type of truck as his personal vehicle. Was he really exposed to any added danger being at work? The employer will argue that this is not work related because he steps into his own truck every day. Then, we have pre-existing degeneration in the spine, and recent visits to the chiropractor. Here, causation is difficult and complicated.
Most cases fall somewhere in between. A thorough review of the injury, witnesses, statements made at the time can make a big difference, as can a look at medical records from a legal perspective. If your employer says, “not my fault,” you need to discuss the situation with someone well versed in the work comp statute.