New Jersey Case Update


Category: New Jersey


Petitioner appeals the decision of the worker’s compensation Judge, who dismissed the claim following a trial. 
The petitioner suffered a work injury when he fell 18 feet off a ladder, fracturing his left ankle, on December 2, 2009. He also alleged aggravation to his lower back as a result of the fall. Medical records produced at trial clearly showed that petitioner suffered from significant and ongoing pre-existing low back problems from as early as the February 2006 and January 2008 work injuries. On September 17, 2009, petitioner suffered a non-work related injury to his lower back while at home. He was diagnosed with “acute lumbar radiculopathy” from the September 2009 injury. MRI was completed September 2009. He received treatment for this injury up to his last epidural injection in November 2009. A January 2011 MRI was completed. The authorized treating physician found no significant change and no traumatic findings when he compared the two MRIs. Any changes were “very minor” and consistent with “degenerative changes.” The worker’s compensation Judge determined that petitioner failed to meet his burden of proof to establish a lumbar causal relationship to the December 2009 accident. 
The Appellate court upheld the decision of the worker’s compensation Judge holding that sufficient credible evidence was submitted allowing the lower court to conclude that Petitioner failed to meet his burden of proof to show the causal link between employment and the disease. The Appellate Court indicated that it is still within the Judge’s discretion to accept the expert opinion of a treating physician over an examining expert’s opinion based on a one time evaluation.
It appears that the petitioner suffered a fracture ankle and through argument by counsel attempted to shoe horn in his pre-existing low back problems. The worker’s compensation Judge and the Appellate court rejected same.

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Lexi Burchmore

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