Florida Appeals Court Dismisses Compensation Claim, Affirming Lower Court Decision

Recently, the First District Court of Appeals in Florida issued an opinion in an appeal involving a workers’ compensation claim from a worker serving as a laundry attendant at a hotel who claimed to suffer a back injury lifting a mattress. According to the record, the attendant stated that he injured his back on May 22, 2019, while lifting and carrying mattresses to different rooms within the hotel. The attendant made several visits to the emergency room over the next few months, stating that he was experiencing stretching and tingling feeling on his side. His employers claim that the hospital visit records do not show a clear connection to the back or neck injury that the attendant states were due to his job. Additionally, the employer states that the attendant failed to file the claim in time.

The judge of compensation claims (JCC) denied the attendant’s claim and dismissed the petition, reasoning that the attendant’s evidence was insufficient for the claim. Both the attendant and the employer appealed the decision, with the attendant contending that the denial should be set aside for various reasons and the employer claiming that the merits of the claim should not have been heard in the first place due to the fact that the attendant did not give notice to the employer in a timely manner.

The Facts of the Case

According to the record, after the attendant claimed to be injured on May 22, 2019, he visited the emergency room on five separate occasions due to potential dehydration, tingling, and a stretching feeling on his side. In the first four of these instances, no mention of potential back or neck issues was noted in the official visit notes, and the attendant himself frequently mentioned dehydration as a potential cause for his issues, noting he was sleeping without an air conditioner. In the final visit on July 17, 2019, the attendant complained of “body aches” and in his discharge instructions, there is a mention of the phrase “cervical sprain.” A few days later, the attendant contacts the employer to file a claim.

The Decision

The court of appeals found that the two claims advanced by the attendant were incompatible with each other. At attendant’s testimony states that he knew the cause of his injury to be the workplace accident involving carrying mattresses. The opinion points out that if that was the case, he should have filed the claim with his employer immediately. On the other hand, if his testimony is to be ignored, and the only evidence that should stand is the last hospital visit that mentioned a “cervical sprain” on July 17, then the lack of back or neck issues as discussed by all the other medical visits makes the connection too tenuous to prove that the cause was from his work incident. For those reasons, the appeals court affirmed the JCC decision, rejecting the attendant’s appeal.

Have You Suffered Injuries While at Work?

If you or someone you love has suffered from a workers’ compensation or work-related injury in Florida, the lawyers at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada can help you understand your rights and the remedies available to you. Our team of attorneys has successfully advocated for workers throughout Florida for 46 years. Expenses and injuries sustained at work can quickly become overwhelming, and having an experienced roster of workers’ compensation attorneys by your side can make a world of difference for your claim. Contact our team at 305-448-8585 to schedule a free and no-obligation initial consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer at our office.


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