Court Rules Injured Worker’s Testimony Established Claim

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Workers’ Compensation on Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Illinois man who went to St. Louis for treatment of a serious neck injury he sustained on the job successfully made his case for workers’ compensation benefits through his testimony alone, an appellate court ruled on Nov. 17. The court said it based its decision on “well-settled” state workers’ compensation law that says claimants need not present evidence beyond his or her own testimony about prior medical conditions to establish a claim.

The injured worker was an employee of Continental Tire North America Inc. in 2006. While working there on June 30 of that year, he was injured in an accident. He developed a neck injury that required him to undergo spinal disc replacement surgery, which he had done in St. Louis. In all, the operation cost the man more than $235,000, according to court records.

In 2008, the worker was granted temporary benefits by a workers’ compensation arbitrator. Continental has appealed through several levels, including the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and county circuit court, both of which upheld the decision. Now the state appellate court has also ruled in the injured worker’s favor.

The decision found that the worker’s testimony that he had no neck problems prior to the accident was sufficient under state law, if persuasive to the court, to prove his injury led to the surgery. Continental had argued that the plaintiff’s claims were not credible because he did not provide outside evidence of his neck’s condition before the accident.

The court also held that the plaintiff acted properly by going to St. Louis for treatment because the disc replacement he need was not available in his region. Therefore, he was entitled to compensation for travel costs.

Source: Business Insurance, “Injured worker’s testimony enough for comp award: Illinois court,” Sheena Harrison, Nov. 18, 2011

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