Alabama Workers' Comp Blawg

  • 19
  • Oct
  • 2008

ALTERED GAIT LEADS TO REMOVAL FROM SCHEDULE AND P and T AWARD

Norandal U.S.A., Inc. v. Graben, --- So.2d ----, 2008 WL 4603456 (Ala.Civ.App. 2008):

In this case decided on October 17, 2008, the employer appealed from a judgment awarding the employee permanent-total-disability benefits due to a right-knee injury arising out of and in the course of his employment. Initially, the employee twisted his knee at work while pushing a drum of paint. Three weeks after surgery, his knee buckled causing him to fall and sustain injury to his right hand, right shoulder, and lower back. The employee did not report the injuries from the fall and sought treatment from an unauthorized doctor. A knee injury is treated as a leg injury and, as such, an employee is typically only entitled to the 200 weeks provided for in the schedule. However, if the effects of the loss of the member extend to other parts of the employee’s body and interfere with their efficiency, then the injury can be taken out of the schedule. To prove this, the employee need only prove that the injury to the scheduled member causes pain or other symptoms that render the non-scheduled parts of the body less efficient. the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agreed that the injuries sustained in the unreported fall could not be considered because the employee did not comply with the notice requirements. However, the evidence that the employee's right knee extended to and interfered with the efficiency of his lower back and hip because of his altered gait was enough to affirm the trial court’s decision.

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