McWane, Inc. v. McClurg; released 3/26/2010
The Court of Appeals addressed three separate issues related to an employee’s refusal resulting in benefits being stopped during the period of refusal.
First, the employer argued that the employee refused certain psychological treatment and, therefore, compensation was not payable pursuant to §25-5-77 (b) of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act during the period of refusal. The employee had under gone treatment involving him returning to the accident site. After several visits the employee told his doctor that he could not do it anymore. There was some testimony that the employee refused to continue the treatment. However, the Court of Appeals found that the evidence showed the employee refused based on an inability to perform the treatment due to the anxiety it caused. Therefore, the Court of Appeals found the inability to perform certain treatment will not establish a refusal of said treatment.
Secondly, the employer argued that the employee refused vocational rehabilitation. Once again there was evidence that the employee was a candidate for vocation rehabilitation and evidence that he was not a candidate. The Court of Appeals found that if there is evidence an employee is not a candidate for vocational rehabilitation, then the refusal will not result in benefits being stopped during the period of refusal pursuant to §25-5-77 of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act.
Finally, the employer argued the employee refused suitable employment and benefits are not owed during the period of refusal pursuant to §25-5-57 (a) (3)e of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. The Court of Appeals pointed out that this section only applies to individuals who are permanently partially disabled and not permanently and totally disabled as the employee in this case was found to be.