Can an employee get additional workers’ compensation benefits for an injury that occurred at home if it’s related to a workplace injury?
In some cases, yes, if there’s enough evidence showing that the injury that occurred at home was caused by complications with the workplace injury.
But as a recent case in Oregon illustrates, the burden is on the employee to provide sufficient evidence proving a link between the two.
His hip collapsed on occasion
In the Matter of the Compensation of Dugas, the employee injured his right hip at work in 2006, while working as a millwright.
He developed traumatic arthritis in that hip along with a narrowing of the hip joint.
By January 2014, his hip condition was medically stationary, although he reported some instability where he would feel acute pain before his hip would collapse.
His doctor noted that this led to some near falls, but he hadn’t completely fallen from such collapses at that point in time.
Claimed he fell 20 times in 7 years
In September 2014, he reported to his doctor that he had fallen from a hip collapse and injured his left shoulder. He told the doctor he’d fallen about 20 times in about six or seven years due to his hip condition.
The doctor focused more on determining if a hip replacement surgery was necessary, but also noted the shoulder injury and the employee’s claim it was related to the fall.
Relied on own reports not evidence
The employee filed claims for the shoulder as consequential to the work-related injury in 2015 and 2017, and his employer denied both due to lack of medical evidence.
The state’s workers’ compensation board and an administrative law judge upheld the denial finding that the employee’s medical records didn’t support his claims.
The Oregon Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court decision, finding the employee’s claims relied too much on his own reporting rather than on the solid evidence found in his medical records.