Florida Court of Appeals Determines Injured Worker Qualifies for Permanent Total Disability

Florida’s First District Court of Appeals issued a ruling that an injured worker who could not find a job at an approved level of physical restriction within his vocational capabilities qualified for permanent total disability. The injured employee worked at a trucking company for nearly three decades and suffered an injury on the job. The injured worker reached maximum medical improvement, the point where his health could not get better even with the assistance of medical care, and sought permanent total disability.

Different types of employment require varying levels of physical exertion. Depending on the type of injury sustained, an injured worker may need to adjust his or her level of exertion on the job. The U.S. Department of Labor classifies the different levels of exertion as sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy work. The injured worker in this case was employed as a driver of semi tractor-trailers and field tractors, which was determined to be medium work. Medium work is defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles as work that requires lifting of 50 pounds with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 25 pounds. The injured worker was assessed by a doctor who reported that his injury limited his physical restrictions at work to light to medium duties. Light duty is defined as lifting less than 20 pounds with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds.

The employer hired someone to do a re-employment assessment for the injured worker. The assessor determined that the injured worker should return to work for the same company as a security guard, as that was the only position available that stayed within the realm of the injured worker’s physical exertion limitations. However, the employer had no open security guard positions at the time of the assessment and made no effort to offer a security guard position to the injured employee.

The Court of Appeals looked at whether the injured worker was able to engage in at least sedentary employment within a 50 mile radius of his residence. The assessor stated that the employer’s security guard post was the the only suitable position as the injured worker could not be placed anywhere else. The Judge of Compensation Claims had previously ruled that the injured worker did not show he could not engage in at least sedentary employment, but the Court of Appeals said the opposite was true. The court thought the fact that his own employer couldn’t even provide him with a job showed that he was unable to find appropriate employment that would accommodate his injury.

The South Florida workers’ compensation law firm Friedman, Rodman & Frank utilizes over 100 years of combined experience to ensure a fair and accurate determination is made in a workers’ compensation case. The attorneys’ aggressive litigation and investigation have aided several injured workers in obtaining the compensation that they need to return to better health and cover expenses during their time of healing. If you or someone you know has been injured on the job and would like to speak to an experienced attorney about your case, call (877) 448-8585.


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