A forty-seven year old Staten Island warehouseman for a closet manufacturing company was operating a forklift at the workplace. This was his regular duty for the past three and a half years of employment there. Also as part of his regular job, he lifted boxes to and from the stocks. On May 16, 1996, the warehouseman was unloading a pallet of boxes. A box fell from the pile and hit him on the back of the head. He experienced pain and the weight and sudden impact of the box caused him to fall on his knee. After that incident at work, he began to experience backand neck pain.
He went to see a Westchester neurosurgeon to determine the injury he suffered and to get a diagnosis of what caused his pain. The employer and the servicing agent agreed to compensate the warehouseman and to pay him temporary disability benefits. Medical tests were conducted and the neurosurgeon discovered that the warehouseman had a preexisting medical condition called spinal stenosis. It is a kind of arthritis of the spine. It is congenital and degenerative. A traumatic injury is sometimes the first sign that a person suffers from spinal stenosis. Here, when the box fell on the warehouseman’s head, his back was twisted and the nerves in his lower spine bruised against his bone causing pain.
The neurosurgeon recommended treatment through physical therapy and restricted his lifting of heavy objects at work and in daily activities. The warehouseman’s back and neck pain was not resolved so the neurosurgeon recommended that he go on a diet to lose excess weight to relieve the weight carried by his spine but still the pain was not alleviated. In 1997, a year after the accident, the neurosurgeon recommended surgery to repair the damage to his spine.
The employer refused to pay for the surgery and stopped paying temporary disability to the warehouseman. This prompted the warehouseman to file a claim for compensation and for authorization for the surgery as well as temporary disability benefits until his maximum medical improvement.
At the trial, the neurosurgeon testified that the pain and impairment experienced by the warehouseman was attributable by seventy-five per cent to the preexisting spinal stenosis and only twenty-five per cent to the accident. The neurosurgeon concluded that the pre-existing medical condition of spinal stenosis was the major contributing cause of the warehouseman’s disability and he even opined that sooner or later, even if the warehouseman did not have the accident, he would have needed surgery on his spine.
The judge of compensation claims found that the accident in the workplace was the major contributing cause to the warehouse man’s need for a surgery on his spine. The judge took into consideration that the warehouseman has been doing manual labor for the past twenty years or so and he has not experienced back pain or disability. At his present employment, he has been working for three and a half years and he has never missed a day of work due to pain or disability until after the accident. The judge then concluded that it was the accident and not the stenosis that was the major contributing cause of the warehouseman’s pain.
The only question is whether or not the warehouseman’s disability should be compensated.
The Court found that the judge of compensation claims did not err in ruling that the warehouseman’s disability is due to the accident at the workplace and not due to the preexisting medical condition.
The Court takes note of the fact that the warehouseman was unaware of the preexisting medical condition and he has not experienced any pain because of it. The pain he suffered and which debilitated him began only after the accident at the workplace. The preexisting medical condition of spinal stenosis was aggravated or made worse by the accident. The accident was compensable.
Did you meet an accident at the workplace like this warehouseman? Did the accident aggravate a preexisting condition? Does your employer refuse to pay disability compensation? You need the assistance of a Florida Spinal Injury Lawyer to file a compensation claim. You need to be represented by a Florida Spinal Injury attorney who will present evidence in your behalf. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, their Florida Spinal Injury lawyers are willing and ready to represent you. Come and visit any of the offices of Stephen Bilkis and Associates in the Florida area. Speak with any of the Florida Spinal Injury attorneys from Stephen Bilkis and Associates today for assistance in promptly and timely filing a compensation claim.