GA Court of Appeals Finds No Change of Condition After Car Accident on Doc Visit


Flores v. Dependable Tire Co., Inc.

The Court of Appeals held the evidence was sufficient to support Workers' Compensation Board's finding that claimant did not sustain a change in condition based on injuries sustained in an intervening motor vehicle accident while leaving a doctor's appointment related to his compensable work-related back injury. 

Employer sought judicial review of Workers' Compensation Board's finding that automobile accident did not break the chain of causation of claimant's work-related back injury, and that his condition was directly and causally related to the work injury.

The record establishes that Flores sustained a compensable on-the-job injury on February 12, 2008, when he injured his back while lifting a large tire.  He did not return to work.  His claim was accepted by the employer, Dependable Tire Co., Inc., which paid indemnity benefits to Flores.

On November 18, 2008, as Flores was leaving a doctor's appointment related to the February compensable injury, the vehicle in which he was riding was struck from the rear, and he was slammed into the dashboard, causing him to lose consciousness.  The vehicle in which Flores was traveling was provided by the employer.  Although Flores testified that he did not choose the transport service provided to him, there was evidence the employer's insurance company provided the vehicle because his attorney requested it and that the employer was not involved in scheduling Flores's appointments.  As a result of the collision, Flores complained of pain in this neck and back, as well as in his chest, abdomen, pelvis and knees.  He was diagnosed as having acute chest, abdomen, and pelvic blunt trauma, neck sprain, and acute contusions to both knees.

In April of 2009, Flores returned to the treating physician, but did not report the November automobile accident to him.  Nevertheless, the doctor noted that Flores again reported his pain level as an eight out of ten; that the accident aggravated Flores's neck and back injuries; but that his diagnosis of lumbar disk herniation and cervical disk herniation was the same before and after the accident.

Affirming the ALJ's award, the Board concluded the accident did not break the chain of causation of Flores's injury and that his condition was directly and causally linked to the work injury.  The Board adopted the ALJ's conclusions without expressly analyzing the issue of whether the accident should be considered work-related.

About The Author:
Rayford H. Taylor

Rayford H. Taylor is an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell.  He is a member of The Florida Bar and the State Bar of Georgia, and practices in the areas of administrative and governmental law, appellate practice, legislative consultation, and workers' compensation.He has practiced law in Georgia since 2002 and in Florida  since 1974. Prior to entering the private practice of law, he was affiliated with The Florida Bar for more than 12 years where he served as its general counsel and legislative counsel.

Mr. Taylor is with the Law Firm of Casey Gilson, P.C., and is a member of the National Workers' Compensation Defense Network.

His full bio is available here.

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