Appeals Court Overturns Erroneous Decision in Florida Workers’ Compensation Back Injury Case

In Babahmetovic v. Scan Design Florida Inc., a Florida man apparently hurt his back when he lifted a heavy box at work in October 2013. Following his injury, the man’s employer authorized an urgent care facility to provide him with treatment. The facility determined the employee’s back harm was work-related and referred him to another physician for follow-up care.

In November 2013, the worker’s treating physician determined the employee suffered from both a workplace injury and a pre-existing degenerative disk condition. Although he indicated the worker’s harm was work-related on a treatment form, the physician sent a letter to the man’s employer stating only 40 percent of his back pain was caused by lifting the heavy box at work. About two weeks later, the man’s employer denied all benefits and stated the workplace incident was not a major contributing cause (“MCC”) of the worker’s need for medical care. According to the employer, the company was permitted to deny all compensability even though it previously authorized medical treatment within 120 days under Section 440.20(4) of the Florida Statutes.

The employee next sought authorization to change his treating doctor. After his employer denied the worker’s request based on its denial of compensability for his back harm, the man sought review before a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”). The JCC determined the employer’s denial of compensability was timely and the man’s workplace accident was not the cause of his need for medical treatment. The JCC also denied the worker’s request to change his treating doctor.

On appeal, Florida’s First District found that the JCC committed error when he ruled there was no compensable injury in the case. The court stated the JCC confused the cause of the injury with the need for treatment. According to the court, causation is established by determining the MCC in a workers’ compensation case. In addition, the appellate court said a workplace incident must be the MCC of an injury, and the work-related harm must be the MCC of a worker’s need for treatment in order to be compensable under Florida law.

Next, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal said that whether the worker’s degenerative disk disease combined with his workplace harm to create his need for treatment did not preclude compensability in the case. Instead, the court found that the JCC incorrectly applied the MCC analysis to find that the man could not receive medical benefits under the state workers’ compensation law.

Finally, the Court of Appeal stated the man’s employer failed to provide him with written notice that the company was still investigating his claim as required by Section 440.20(4). As a result, the court held the employer waived its right to deny compensability under the statute, reversed the JCC’s order, and remanded the workers’ compensation case.

If you or someone you love was injured at work in Miami, a dedicated personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover financial compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation with a caring South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer today, give the experienced personal injury advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. a call at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Babahmetovic v. Scan Design Florida Inc., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015

More Blog Posts:

Northern District of Florida Dismisses Defective Design Case Over Lack of Supporting Evidence, April 29, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Florida Court Holds Workers’ Compensation Case May be Time-Barred, April 23, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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