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Firefighter Falls while Fishing in Florida, Nets $942 TTD Award

03 Jul, 2023 Frank Ferreri

fishing boat g884a66891 640
                               

Fairfax, VA (WorkersCompensation.com) -- One might think fishing in Florida on vacation and workers' compensation benefits don't go together, but life has a way of changing the nature of workplace injuries.

Such was the case in Fairfax County v. Halisky, No. 1388-22-4 (Va. Ct. App. 06/27/23, unpublished), where a worker slipped and fell on a boat during a fishing vacation in the Sunshine State, with the resulting injury aggravating the compensable injury he had experienced and earning him increased benefits.

A firefighter and EMT filed a claim for benefits, alleging a compensable injury to his left shoulder that occurred when he was lifting a stretcher from an ambulance. The firefighter's post-injury MRI revealed tears, tendinosis, and osteoarthritic changes. Although the firefighter underwent surgery, he continued to feel pain in his shoulder.

The firefighter's employer county accepted the injury as compensable, and Virginia's commission awarded him temporary total disability benefits in the amount of $1,082. Roughly a year later, the firefighter was released to return to work as a firefighter and EMT.

While on vacation in Florida, the firefighter fell on a fishing boat and landed on his shoulder. Following this injury, the firefighter sought an additional award of TTD benefits, claiming that the aggravation to his shoulder injury was a "compensable consequence" of the original injury.

Following a hearing, a deputy commissioner concluded that the firefighter's fall on vacation was a compensable consequence of his work accident. As such, the deputy commissioner entered an award in the firefighter's favor in the amount of $942.11.

The county submitted a request for review, and the full commission affirmed the deputy commissioner's findings, emphasizing that the doctor related the firefighter's condition after the fall to the work accident and that the doctor's causation opinion was uncontradicted.

The county appealed to court.

In Virginia, the doctrine of compensable consequences allows a claimant to recover for injuries that result from an industrial accident, even if those injuries do not manifest during the initial industrial accident, but rather, develop at some point in the future.

Workers' Comp 101: In Morris v. Badger Powhatan/Figgie Int'l, Inc., 348 S.E. 2d 876 (Va. Ct. App. 1986), the Court of Appeals of Virginia summarized the compensable consequences doctrine thus: "When the primary injury is shown to have arisen out of and in the course of employment, every natural consequence that flows from the injury likewise arises out of the employment, unless it is the result of an independent intervening cause attributable to claimant's own intentional conduct."

The court, upholding the commission and deputy commissioner's decision, held that the doctor's opinion was uncontradicted and that the firefighter's pre-existing arthritis was asymptomatic before the compensable work injury.

Additionally, the court rejected the county's contention that the fact the firefighter injured himself while vacationing in Florida bore relevance to the issue.

"There was 'no medical restriction' that prohibited him from fishing or engaging in everyday activities and recreation," the court reasoned.

Thus, the award stood.


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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

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