Can a truck driver collect on a back injury despite having a history of spine-related medical problems?
According to the West Virginia Court of Appeals, he can’t. Why? In this case, because there wasn’t enough medical evidence to prove his back problems were related to on-the-job injuries.
Pushed down onto pavement
The driver claimed he was injured when he was pushed down and landed on pavement at work on Aug. 17, 2016. He had neck pain from the incident and his girlfriend reported he was experiencing some amnesia. He also complained of back pain.
A CT scan revealed he had a degenerative disorder in his spine, but the driver reported he didn’t have any chronic back or neck problems. He was diagnosed with a head injury, amnesia, probable loss of consciousness and age-related problems in two areas of his spine.
Truck hits bump, results in injury
On April 22, 2017, the driver was transported to a hospital after claiming he was injured when his truck hit a bump resulting in him hitting his head on the ceiling of the truck’s cab.
Tests showed there was no trauma indicative of a work-related injury, but there was evidence that the degenerative problems in his spine had worsened. Further testing supported this evidence.
The driver had filed a workers’ compensation claim for this injury, claiming the incident had caused an injury to his back.
The claim was denied by the workers’ compensation claims administrator and the West Virginia Office of Judges.
Back problems from degenerative condition
The administrator and Office of Judges found the medical evidence was clear in showing the driver had significant issues with his spine prior to the most recent work-related injury.
One doctor noted that a cervical spine surgery would need to be performed in the future due to significant age-related degenerative issues.
Evidence was clear
The driver appealed but the appeals court found the lower court’s decision was based on proper reasoning.
“For an injury to be compensable it must be a personal injury that was received in the course of employment, and it must have resulted from that employment,” the appeals court states in its decision.
In this case, the medical evidence clearly showed the driver’s degenerative spine problems began before he sustained the work-related injuries.
Additionally, the court found none of the doctors involved related the driver’s back problems to the injuries sustained on the job.