Employee Eligible For New Comp Claim Based on New Injury

October 24, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled an injured employee whose condition was worsened by light-duty work can claim his condition as a new injury, reports Business Insurance. 

Tedral Ogletree claimed a lumbar fusion surgery he underwent resulted from the worsening of a prior injury that should qualify for new workers compensation benefits. However, his former employer, R.R. Donnelley, argued that Ogletree suffered a change on condition that should be covered under a previous claim. 

According to Business Insurance, the court said Ogletree’s condition qualifies him for a new injury because his work responsibilities had changed since his initial claim, and “he was no longer performing normal or ordinary duties.”

Ogletree worked as an assistant pressman, and in October 2002 he suffered a work-related injury to his neck and upper extremities. He had carpal tunnel surgery and received workers compensation benefits, including permanent partial disability. He returned to work on a light-duty basis in June 2003.

Ogletree’s doctor permanently restricted him from lifting, pushing, or pulling more than 15 pounds. Upon his return, R.R. Donnelley placed Ogletree in various positions, including ones in the company’s fulfillment and quality-control departments.

Ogletree claimed the light-duty work he was doing exceeded his medical restrictions 40% of the time, even though he asked supervisors to modify his work and had complained on increasing pain. Ogletree went on to file a claim for medical and temporary total disability benefits after undergoing lumbar fusion surgery in October 2008, even though he had been laid off from R.R. Donnelley in April 2008.

The news report said in its decision, the court stated that Ogletree qualified for new benefits because he was “performing under new circumstances that were more strenuous and exceeded his light-duty work restrictions.”