Friday, June 25, 2010

Commission reverses award for vision loss

The Commission reversed an award against the second injury fund based on synergistic effect when claimant detached retinas in two separate accidents, finding the claimant failed to prove that disability pre-existing the second accident satisfied threshold levels. The Commission considered three factors important: claimant settled the original case below threshold values at 10%, claimant offered scant medical records, and claimant's expert did not provide a narrative report to explain whether the "whopping rating" of 62% higher than the original settlement improperly included post-accident degeneration. The administrative law judge had awarded benefits, including a substantial loading factor of 60%. Deibel v UPS 7-20-10 (2-1)

ALJ: Vacca
Experts: Pernoud
Atty: Pashos

The commission in a 2-1 decision just reversed an award of disability for blindness, in the 6-24-10 decision, Biondo v Dial Corp. Claimant, 47, sustained blindness in his left eye, which he relates to sudden movements in 2004 while pulling a 150-pound hose in his work as a raw material unloader. The administrative law judge awarded 100% loss and 36 weeks for temporary total disability. The administrative law judge found the accident a “substantial factor” based on testimony from claimant’s expert who attributed claimant’s injury to a valsalva movement placing excess pressure on the eye. The Commission reversed an award of benefits based on its de novo review of credibility of the experts. The Commission found the employer's expert more credible regarding the impact of claimant's hypertension on his retinal hemorrhage and found assumptions by the claimant's doctor that claimant had performed valsalva maneuver prior to the hemorrhage not fully supported in the initial medical records. Claimant had other predisposing risk factors including hypertension and proliferative bilateral diabetic retinopathy.

ALJ: Vacca
Treaters: Territo
Experts: Pernoud, Korn
Atty: Wolfe