An injured worker with pre-existing diabetes can collect workers’ compensation benefits after a work injury led to the amputation of his leg.
The worker had been successfully coping with diabetes for 20 years until a workplace injury to his leg caused a gangrenous infection.
Because the infection was caused by the work injury, the Louisiana Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found the worker was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Foot caught between metal plate, concrete floor
Scott Clover was an employee at Redfish Rentals. On March 18, 2020, Clover was kneeling next to a portable man lift, working on repairing its wiring when the lower part of his right leg got caught under a metal plate. This caused his foot and ankle to be compressed between the plate and the concrete floor.
Clover notified his supervisor of the incident and then finished his shift. He attempted to work for the next several days before his supervisor told him to take whatever time off work he needed to heal properly.
Injury leads to infection, amputation
On March 26, 2020, Clover went to an urgent care facility with complaints of pain and swelling in his right foot. He was diagnosed with a fracture in his right foot. By May 20, 2020, Clover had to have his lower right leg amputated because it failed to heal and had developed a gangrenous infection.
The doctor who provided treatment said the need for amputation was directly related to Clover’s work injury.
Before the incident, Clover had been diagnosed with diabetes, which he’d been living with for about 20 years. While he’d had a few medical issues related to his diabetes, in the five years before the incident, Clover had no issues working and no problems with the lower part of his right leg.
Prior to beginning work for Redfish, Clover underwent a physical on Oct. 8, 2019, and was found fit for work with no restrictions and no problems with his legs.
Insurance company calls unwitnessed incident suspicious
Clover filed a workers’ compensation claim, which was denied by Redfish’s insurance company.
A workers’ compensation judge issued a decision on March 18, 2022, finding that Clover’s work injury resulted in the amputation of his lower right leg, entitling him to workers’ compensation benefits.
On appeal, the insurance company argued that the judge erred in finding Clover’s injury was compensable because the incident was unwitnessed and medical records indicated it was caused by a lawn mower.
The insurance company pointed out that Clover’s co-workers testified that no one operated the lift that caused the injury in the way Clover described.
However, the judge, and the court, found that Clover never testified that he was operating the lift when he was injured. He was down on one knee attempting to fix a wire on the machine and testing it to see if he was successful.
According to both the judge and the appeals court, there was sufficient evidence to prove Clover’s injury was work related.
Explanation for discrepancy in evidence was ‘reasonable’
As for the lawn mower mentioned in the evidence, there was no doubt the medical records stated that a lawn mower had fallen on Clover’s foot. But the treating doctor testified that there was no mention of a lawn mower when he was examining Clover.
The doctor testified that he believed the person who admitted Clover at the emergency room misunderstood Clover’s description regarding “the injury occurring at a ‘yard’ to mean a lawn rather than his workplace,” and that the machinery that caused the injury was assumed to be a lawn mower.
The judge found the doctor’s testimony was credible and the appeals court found the explanation reasonable, so it upheld the judge’s decision and awarded benefits to Clover.