Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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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In Moradiellos v. Community Asphalt Corp., Inc., a man was tragically killed when he was struck by a truck while working as an asphalt surveyor on the Florida Turnpike. At the time of the accident, the man was employed by an asphalt company that acted as the general contractor for an ongoing road widening project. Following the man’s untimely death, his wife filed a negligence lawsuit against the general contractor and other entities.

In response to the woman’s complaint, the general contractor filed a motion for summary judgment. Such a motion is appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute and one party to a lawsuit is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. According to the asphalt company, it was the deceased man’s employer and consequently enjoyed workers’ compensation immunity. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the general contractor’s motion, and the man’s wife appealed the decision to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal.

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In CVS Caremark Corp. v. McIntosh, a Florida pharmacy worker sought workers’ compensation benefits for her purported post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) following a work-related incident. Although the worker’s employer initially authorized the employee to seek psychiatric treatment, it later challenged the worker’s request for temporary total disability and inpatient psychiatric care benefits.

At a hearing before a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”), the woman’s psychiatrist testified that she was temporarily and totally disabled because her workplace accident caused her to suffer from PTSD. Despite this, the JCC rejected the doctor’s opinion because the woman was able to work for other specific periods of time following her job-related incident. The JCC also stated the worker’s testimony concerning her inability to work was not credible and found that she was not working for reasons that were unrelated to her compensable accident. As a result, the JCC denied the worker’s temporary disability claim.

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In Broadspire v. Jones, a paper mill employee suffered orthopedic and psychological injuries after he was hurt in a 1981 workplace explosion. After receiving medical care for many years, the man eventually asked to collect attendant care payments for his recently retired wife. The man’s employer denied his request, based on its assertion that the man’s continuing need for treatment was not work-related. Additionally, the employer claimed the services provided by the man’s wife were gratuitous and not compensable.

Following a hearing on the matter, a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) awarded the injured man 12 hours of attendant care paid to his wife each day under Section 440.13(2)(b) of the Florida Statutes. In response, the employer filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. In its appeal, the employer argued the JCC’s order was based on the wrong causation standard and was not supported by the record.

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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.

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In Limith v. Lenox on the Lake, an employee was injured in a Florida workplace accident.  As a result, she filed a petition for benefits in 2011.  A Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) later dismissed the petition but reserved jurisdiction over the employee’s claim for legal fees and costs.  In 2013, the JCC denied the employer’s request to dismiss the worker’s claim for lack of prosecution.  Next, the employee sought a follow-up medical visit related to her workplace injury.  Although the JCC denied the worker’s request, he also rejected the employer’s affirmative defense that the statute of limitations enumerated in Section 440.19 of the Florida Statutes had expired.  After that, both parties filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

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