State ex rel. Viking Forge Corp. v. Perry, a workers’ compensation appeal from the Supreme Court of Ohio, involved claimant who was injured while working at an industrial plant. His on-the-job accident resulted in severe injuries to claimant’s thumbs, and a surgeon had to partially amputate his left thumb and repair his right thumb.
Claimant filed for workers’ compensation benefits and was awarded temporary total disability benefits. After time to recover, claimant returned to work at his old position with light restrictions to due his earlier hand injury. Four months after returning to work, his light work restrictions were lifted, and he returned to his full job responsibilities as before the work-related accident.
Two months later, his surgeon determined claimant was no longer in need of treatment and discharged claimant. He referred claimant to an occupational therapy clinic for him to be fit with a prosthetic device and for further physical rehabilitation.
Since he no longer needed a surgeon, he began to see another doctor, who placed claimant again on work restrictions, and claimant applied once again for workers’ compensation benefits in connection with his industrial accident.
In the meantime, claimant was fired from his job. However, after hearing, commission found claimant to be entitled to temporary total disability benefits, because the event related to his termination was not his fault, but rather the fault of his coworker.
Employer appealed this second award of benefits on grounds court had abused its discretion in finding claimant to be entitled to disability benefits for a period of time occurring after employee had been terminated. The intermediary court of appeals looked again at the issue of whether claimant had voluntarily left his employment. Court concluded claimant had not. Evidence of his increased pain, hypersensitivity, and his intent of getting additional treatment could be used to support claimant was willing and able to work, had it not been for issues related to his earlier industrial accident. On the other hand, employer claimed he was fired for not doing his job, and this was not a result of his alleged medical condition, but rather his desire to abandon his position so he could get workers’ compensation benefits.
First, the court noted his onset of disability in connection with his filing of a second request for disability benefits was close to the time he was terminated. The court said this was inherently suspect. The court then examined the medical evidence to see if he truly was entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits.
On this issue, the court also heard from employer, who showed claimant had been repeatedly pointed to an employee manual, which focused on safety measures, and that claimant failed to follow these standards. The court was operating under a theory of abuse of discretion standard. As our Boston workplace injury attorneys can explain, under an abuse of discretion standard, appeals court will not reexamine the facts, as long as lower judge’s decisions were supported by adequate evidence.
In this case, court of appeals found trier of fact had relied on medical documentation submitted to the hearing and demonstrated in his ruling how this evidence logically applied to his decision to award benefits. Therefore, court of appeals affirmed his award of benefits.
If you are injured on the job in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim: 1-888-367-2900.
Appeal of Brandon Kelly , March 18, 2015, Ohio Supreme Court
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Man Electrocuted in Construction Site Accident, August 25, 2014, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog