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Does workers' compensation permanent total disability when it results from a combination of work and non-work injuries?

Eaton v. City of Winter Haven-1st District Court of Appeals

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A Florida man, Scott Eaton, recently appealed a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) ruling that apportioned his workers' compensation benefits for permanent total disability (PTD) because his disability was caused by two accidents: one that occurred outside of work, and one that occurred during work and was compensable.

Mr. Eaton first suffered an injury to his low back outside of work in February of 2008. He underwent a discectomy in March and was subsequently released back to work without restrictions or permanent impairment following a seven-week recovery period.

In August of 2008, Mr. Eaton suffered another low back injury while he was working as an employee of the City of Winter Haven. The injury was compensable by workers' compensation. He underwent surgery for the injury in November, and placed at maximum medical improvement (MMI) the following August.

He was referred to pain management, and his pain management physician placed him at MMI later in August of 2009 with a permanent impairment rating (PIR) of four percent.

Mr. Eaton filed for workers' compensation seeking temporary partial, temporary total and permanent total disability benefits. His employer/carrier (E/C) asserted that his benefits should be apportioned 50% based on his neurosurgeon's statement that his work and non-work injuries contributed equally to his disability.

The JCC ruled that his benefits should be apportioned.

Mr. Eaton appealed the decision in Florida's First District Court of Appeals, and the ruling by the JCC was reversed.

The appeals court determined that the E/C did not, as required by Section 440.15(5)(b), Florida Statutes (2008), submit medical evidence that Mr. Eaton had an anatomical impairment rating attributable to a preexisting condition at the time of his at-work injury.

His physician released him back to work without restriction or permanent impairment after the first injury, so a preexisting condition was not noted.

In workers' compensation cases, it is vital that your attorney have the experience to know what evidence is required for you to receive fair compensation. Even if your claim has been denied or apportioned by the JCC, you may be entitled to benefits which may be gained through an appeal.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let our team of experienced workers' compensation and personal injury attorneys review your case to make sure that you receive a favorable legal result.

Canan Law is the most respected team of St. Augustine attorneys specializing in auto accidents, personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Ask your legal question today with our website's live chat feature!

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