Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

In Babametovic v. Scan Design Florida, Inc., a Florida man apparently injured his back while lifting a heavy box at work in October 2013. After complaining to his employer, the man was authorized to seek treatment at an urgent care facility. The medical facility diagnosed the worker with radiculitis and indicated the injury was work-related. The facility also referred the employee to another doctor for follow-up treatment.

About one month later, the employee was examined by the follow-up physician, who then diagnosed him with a lumbar muscle sprain and a preexisting degenerative disc disorder. Although the doctor also indicated the man’s injury was work-related, he sent the employer a letter stating the worker’s harm was only 40 percent related to his work injury. The physician stated the man’s back issues were 60 percent caused by his preexisting condition.

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In Sierra v. Metropolitan Protective Services, a Florida man was providing security guard services at work when he suffered minor wounds in a knife attack. After receiving emergency room treatment, the guard was referred to two doctors for follow-up treatment. One of the physicians was apparently a professional psychiatrist. The man’s employer accepted compensability for the incident, and he returned to work about one week later.

Next, the security guard’s employer granted the man’s request to transfer to a different work location. Over the course of the following months, however, the worker was apparently involved in two car accidents that were not work-related. Although the first accident was not considered serious, the guard sustained severe harm to his shoulder when his scooter was hit by a motor vehicle in the second incident. Eventually, the man underwent surgery on his shoulder. In addition, the guard did not return to work after the second traffic wreck.

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In Slora v. Sun ‘N Fun Fly-In, Inc., a woman was injured when a tornado hit a security guard booth at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. At the time of the incident, the woman was employed by a security staffing agency that provided security services to an air show company whose operations were subject to the regulatory jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”). Because of this, the company was required to file certain certificates of waiver with the FAA and agree to provide security and policing services in order to perform the show.

After the woman was injured, she collected workers’ compensation benefits from her employer. The worker then filed a negligence action against the air show operator in a Florida circuit court. According to her complaint, the severe weather that caused her injuries was foreseeable, the air show company failed to maintain the guard booth in a reasonably safe manner, and the business failed to warn her of the personal injury risks she faced in the event of severe weather.  As a result, the security guard asked the court to award her damages. In response, the air show company filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing the guard’s claims were barred by Section 440.10(1)(b) of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law.

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In Companion Property & Casualty Ins. Co. v. All Roof Systems, LLC, a Florida man was apparently severely injured when he fell through a hole that was concealed while working on a roof. At the time, the man was a contract employee who was leased to the roofing company by a staffing agency. As a result of his injury, the hurt man and his wife filed a lawsuit against the roofing company in state court. In the couple’s state court complaint, they argued the roofer was not entitled to enjoy workers’ compensation immunity under Section 440.11(1)(b)(2) of the Florida Statutes.

Next, the roofing company’s insurer filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings with the Middle District of Florida in Tampa. According to the insurance company, it had no duty to defend or indemnify the roofer because the plaintiff’s injury resulting from the concealed hole constituted an intentional tort. Under Florida’s no-fault workers’ compensation law, employers are not provided with immunity for intentional torts. In addition, the insurer claimed such a claim was not covered under the roofer’s insurance policy.

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In Cruz v. State of Florida Dept. of Legal Affairs, a Florida man suffered a compensable workplace injury. While collecting temporary disability for a heart and mental health condition, the worker sought additional temporary total disability or temporary partial disability payments. According to the employee, his work-related harm not only rendered him disabled but also exacerbated his preexisting gastrointestinal condition.

At a hearing before a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”), medical evidence was provided by two cardiologists who treated the worker. Both specialists apparently stated the man would reach his overall maximum medical improvement (“MMI”) for his heart condition before January 1, 2014. Similarly, the worker’s psychiatrists offered testimony that he would reach his overall mental health MMI about six months before that date. As a result, the JCC ruled that the employee was no longer entitled to receive temporary disability benefits as of December 31, 2013.

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In Perry v. City of St. Petersburg, an employee who was purportedly injured at work filed a workers’ compensation claim. In her request, the woman sought benefits related to the medical care she required following the on-the-job incident. At a hearing on the matter, a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) denied the woman’s request to admit the expert opinion of her employer’s independent doctor. In response, the worker sought to challenge the JCC’s denial under Section 90.702 of the Florida Statutes.

According to Section 90.702, technical, scientific, or other expert testimony may be admitted as evidence if it is based on sufficient facts and utilizes reliable methods. The JCC responded by ruling that he was not obligated to address the woman’s evidentiary challenge. After that, the worker filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

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In Scherer v. Volusia County Dept. of Corrections, a Florida correctional officer stopped working after he was diagnosed with a heart condition in late 2009. The officer returned to work in 2010 after he had a defibrillator implanted into his chest. Due to the officer’s deteriorating health, he ultimately retired from his position in early 2012. In the following year, the former correctional officer underwent a heart transplant.

In 2013, the worker filed five separate petitions for workers’ compensation benefits. Each of the man’s requests relied on the presumption included in Section 112.18 of the Florida Statutes, which states a correctional officer’s heart condition and resulting disability is compensable as a work-related accident, absent competent evidence to the contrary. The officer’s former employer defended against his claim by arguing the presumption included in the law did not apply, since the man failed to file his benefits request within 180 days of leaving his position. The worker countered that the portion of the law that included the 180-day limit applied only to worker disabilities that began after July 1, 2010. A Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) agreed with the man’s employer and denied the correctional officer’s claim.

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In Giaimo v. Florida Autosport, Inc., an automobile mechanic was apparently injured when he was struck from behind while test driving a customer’s vehicle in Florida. Due to the man’s resulting neck and back harm, the worker underwent surgery that was performed by an authorized neurosurgeon. Prior to his workplace accident, however, the man was deemed to be eight percent permanently impaired due to a prior car accident in which he also hurt his neck and back.

At a workers’ compensation benefits hearing, both the mechanic and his employer agreed that he was permanently and totally disabled. Despite this, the man’s employer argued that the man’s benefits should be apportioned because the workplace accident aggravated the mechanic’s preexisting injuries. During the hearing, the man’s surgeon, an authorized pain manager, and one of the worker’s initial treating surgeons offered medical testimony.

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In School Board of Lee County v. Huben, an employee suffered an arm injury at work. Following her workplace harm, the Florida woman sought workers’ compensation benefits. A Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) awarded the worker temporary partial disability, temporary total disability, and other benefits. In addition, the JCC apparently adjusted the employee’s average weekly wage upwards. After the JCC issued the award, the woman’s employer filed an appeal with the District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.

On appeal, the worker’s employer argued the JCC should not have considered the independent medical examiner evidence offered by the worker. In addition, the employer claimed the JCC should have denied the worker’s temporary partial disability benefits request because she voluntarily limited her income. The employer also asserted that the employee’s psychiatric injury did not merit a temporary total disability award and that the JCC should not have awarded the worker legal fees based on the average weekly wage adjustment.

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In Leggett v. Barnett Marine, Inc., a marine dock construction worker apparently hurt his back while moving a heavy object at a Florida workplace in May 2013. Following his injury, the man’s employer accepted compensability and provided him with authorization to pursue medical care. In addition, the employer began paying the injured man temporary total disability payments.

While undergoing physical therapy for his back harm, the man apparently hurt his hip. Due to this injury, the employee’s physician referred him to an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation. After stating the employee’s hip harm was not work-related, the man’s employer refused compensability for the worker’s subsequent hip injury.

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