Workers' compensation is a critical resource for those injured on the job, but it isn't always easy to obtain the coverage to which one is entitled under the law. In some cases, employers or their insurers put up roadblocks for injured employees in an attempt to avoid or minimize costs. This can be particularly harmful for an employee who suffers permanently injuries on the job.
We recently handled a case in which an employer attempted to appeal an injured employer's award of permanent total disability compensation, but to no avail. The case involved an employee who was seriously injured on the job in 2011 and who was later awarded permanent total disability compensation based on the medical reports of several doctors. The Industrial Commission of Ohio, which handles workers' compensation disputes, decided to deny the employer's motion to depose two fact witnesses, which was part of the employer's effort to prevent the award.
The employer chose to appeal the decision, arguing that the commission's decision was not based on the evidence and requesting that the court either set aside the order granting permanent total disability compensation or order a new hearing concerning the depositions it had requested. Although that appeal resulted in the setting aside of reports provided by two of the doctors, a decision was ultimately rendered in favor of the employee based on a third medical report. The employer wasn't happy with that result and appealed again.
In the most recent appeal, we were successful in arguing for a decision in favor of the injured worker on each of the issues the employer raised in the appeal. One of these issues was whether the medical report on which the workers' compensation award was based was too vague, ambiguous or inconsistent to support a finding of permanent total disability. That, of course, is what the employer argued. We were successful in arguing, though, that the doctor's decision to list the employee's specific functional limitations in the report didn't undermine his conclusion that the employee was incapable of working. The employer's attempt to undermine the value of the medical report based on an alleged ambiguity was, therefore, foiled.
In our next post, we'll continue looking at the issues raised in this case, and the importance of working with experienced legal counsel when an employer seeks to unfairly deny or minimize workers' compensation benefits.