Court Rules Injured Worker Can Receive Disability Despite Improvement

October 18, 2011 ( – The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled a former manager of Kentucky Fried Chicken, who hurt her back on the job, can receive temporary total disability benefits, despite receiving a maximum medical improvement declaration for her injury, reports Business Insurance.

Elaine Loofbourrow qualified for temporary total disability benefits because her back injury worsened after an employer-authorized doctor said her condition had stabilized, the court ruled.

“Indeed, although [the] employer has contested the compensability of claimant’s 2009 condition, there appears to be no dispute that her current condition has rendered her disabled and caused her a wage loss,” reads the ruling in Elaine Loofbourrow vs. Industrial Claims Appeals Office of the State of Colorado et al, according to Business Insurance. 

Court records say Loofbourrow was diagnosed with a back strain in November 2008 after working a shift by herself at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Harman-Bergstedt Inc., the franchise’s owner, sent Loofbourrow to a physician who treated her and declared that she had reached maximum medical improvement in December 2008.

After Loofbourrow began experiencing back pain several months later, her personal physician determined that she had a bulging disc. She was told she could no longer work in August 2009. Harman-Bergstedt allowed Loofbourrow to be treated by its appointed physician in January 2010, but had contested the compensability of her injuries.

The news report said Colorado administrative law judge awarded temporary total disability benefits to Loofbourrow, but the state’s Industrial Claim Appeals Office later set aside the award, saying there had been no challenge of Loofbourrow’s maximum medical improvement determination. The appellate court said Harman-Bergstedt never closed Loofbourrow’s original workers compensation claim, and that temporary total disability would cover a worsening of Loofbourrow’s condition after maximum medical improvement.