Kingery v. Sumitomo Elec. Wiring, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Kentucky, involved a claimant who was injured in 1989. She applied for workers’ compensation after being injured on the job and was awarded benefits.
Specifically, the type of injury was a repetitive stress injury (RSI). According to claimant’s testimony, she was required to reach over her head and hang coils of electrical wire on pegs. She had to do this all day and was required to hang approximately three wire coils per minute. Due to the fact that she was only four feet, eight inches tall, she had to really strain her body to reach the pegs, which were over maximum reach without straining. After working for the employer for about a month, she began to experience pain in her upper back and neck.
At this point, she filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and was in fact awarded benefits. Her benefits award included payment for future medical expenses for a cervical and thoracic spine strain or sprain superimposed upon pre-existing changes. The ALJ at her hearing also made a finding that the total effects of claimant’s injuries were “minimal” and that she could return to work without the need for any restrictions, other than she was not required to hang electrical wire coils or subassemblies, as that was the direct cause of the injuries for which she was seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
At this point, she returned to work, where she was given a new position that required her to sit in a chair for most of the day. She was required to move the chair back and forth, and, according to her testimony, that caused her neck and back, which were already injured, to hurt even more, and she left work after two hours of her first shift and did not return.
She got a new job working for an employer and was required to count items and place them in boxes, but she could not do this, either, because of her now pre-existing head and neck condition. She left this employer, as well, and testified she had not worked since that time.
The reason this case found its way to court after so much time is because her first employer filed a challenge to claimants’ attempt to get treatment for her condition in 2012. Her employer claimed the treatment was neither necessary nor reasonable in light of her 1989 on-the-job injury, and they also challenged the use of Lorcet, Skelaxin, Xanax, and Celexa, which her doctor was currently prescribing to treat her 1989 medical condition. At the hearing before the administrative law judge in 2012, ALJ ruled that her injury was related and compensable. At this point, employer appealed their ruling to the court of appeal, and this court reversed the ALJ finding she was not entitled to benefits. Claimant then appealed to the state supreme court, which affirmed the court of appeals.
As our Winston-Salem workers’ compensation attorneys have seen, in some cases companies are willing to spend much more on fighting a case than it would cost to pay benefits. For this reason, you want to make sure you have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side who is not afraid to fight for your rights to full and appropriate compensation.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Kingery v. Sumitomo Elec. Wiring, October 29, 2015, Supreme Court of Kentucky
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Large Study on Brain Injury Yields New Data about Recovery, Oct. 5, 2015, Greensboro Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog