Archive for December, 2014

Good Documentation Essential to Work Injury Compensation in Providence

When a worker gets hurt on the job site or while performing work tasks, a workers’ compensation lawyer can assist in notifying an employer and making a workers’ compensation claim. The key to getting benefits is to report the injury and have detailed documentation to prove health consequences as a result of work-related injury. 

Recently, Safety News Alert reported a complex workers comp claim that made its way to the state supreme court. The employee was ultimately denied benefits, in large part because of improper documentation of her medical problems. Those who are harmed on-the-job need to make sure they do not suffer this type of loss of benefits because of a paperwork failure.

Documentation of Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

In this case, the woman slipped and fell down the stairs while at work. When the patient sought medical treatment immediately after taking the fall, she reported that she was experiencing pain in her left hand. Doctors diagnosed her with fractures in that hand. Then, two days following the fall, she submitted a notification of injury to her employer. The injury report detailed only the damage to the hand.

The employee underwent treatment during several follow-up visits. On one visit a month after the incident, she indicated for the first time to the doctor that she was experiencing discomfort in her right hip. X-rays were ordered, which ended up being taken almost three months after the fall. An MRI was also ordered and she was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in her right hip and underwent hip replacement surgery. The doctor wrote in the notes that the damage to the hip was probably a “post-traumatic event related to the slip-and-fall accident.”

She subsequently applied for workers’ compensation benefits and claimed that her job was the cause of damage to her hip. The state board that reviews workers’ comp claims, appeals and denials, however, made the decision to deny all workers’ compensation payments for the injured hip. The reasoning was that the right hip injury was not related to the original reports that she made regarding hurting her hand on-the-job.

The employee requested a hearing and three co-workers testified that her job was responsible for the fall and for the resulting damage to the hip. Her doctor also testified in support of her claim that she hurt her hip when she suffered the workplace fall.

Conflicting evidence, however, indicated that she may have AVN in both of her hips and a doctor reviewing the case found that it was “very unlikely” her problems came from taking a tumble at work. This second doctor’s opinion was given greater weight than the employee’s treating physician and the initial decision denying her benefits was affirmed.

Her case progressed to the state Supreme Court, which found that testimony related to the injuries was not consistent with medical documentation. The hip pain was not recorded for a month after the incident, and thus the employee failed to show entitlement to benefits for a work-related injury. The failure to document all damages may have cost her the additional benefits.

Contact a Providence workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at 508-677-4900 or visit http://www.dgklaw.com to schedule your free consultation. Serving Coventry, Warwick, Providence and surrounding areas.