Respondent Wins where Bathroom is too small for Petitioner’s Claim
Accidents happen, and sometimes they don’t. A capable defense team can prove this. Congratulations to Judy Nash for a recent victory in showing that the petitioner failed to prove that a compensable accident occurred.
The petitioner, a 31-year old CNA, alleged that she sustained a low back injury when she attempted to lift a resident who had fallen in the bathroom of a nursing home facility. The medical records established that this young employee had a 10 year history of back pain. Following the alleged accident, the petitioner developed “drop foot” and ultimately required a lumbar microdiscectomy. She did not return to work for the respondent. At trial the petitioner testified that she was unable to return to work as a CNA due to her back condition and requested an award of almost $80,000, including more than $30,000 in medical bills and 25 weeks of temporary total disability benefits.
Attorney Nash worked closely with the Human Resources director of the insured from the initial investigation stage through the presentation of the defense at trial, and that collaboration proved to be the foundation of a successful defense. Based upon evidence presented at trial, including photographs and measurements of the bathroom in which the resident fell and testimony of the Human Resources Director (that the petitioner failed to provide notice of the alleged accident) and the Director of Nursing and a fellow CNA who was present when the resident was lifted up from the floor on the alleged date of accident, Attorney Nash challenged the veracity of the petitioner’s testimony by establishing that the room in question was actually too small to fit the resident, the petitioner, and the petitioner’s co-worker. The Arbitrator found the petitioner’s testimony to be unpersuasive on the issue of whether an accident actually occurred.
This case illustrates the importance of a prompt and thorough investigation of a claimed work accident and a team approach to all aspects of claim handling, from beginning to end. We encourage a collaborative strategy in which the handling attorney works with the relevant representatives of insured in the preparation of cases. We welcome the opportunity to pursue similar results for all of our clients.
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