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Change of Condition in Workers’ Compensation

Sometimes injuries get worse over time after your doctor releases you from care. And if you do get worse, workers’ compensation allows you to ask for additional medical treatment. But this can be difficult to prove sometimes. However, the new case Russell v. Wal-Mart shows what is necessary to prove a change of condition.

What Happened Here

Russell, an assistant store manager, worked at Wal-Mart for more than ten years. While lifting something at work, she injured her lower back. Because she was pregnant, her treatment was conservative with no diagnostic testing. However, after having her baby, Russell had an MRI scan. Earlier, her doctor did not recommend surgery. But several months later, that changed and Russell alleged a change of condition and new symptoms. Although the single Commissioner awarded additional benefits, the Full Commission reversed. Rather, they found her testimony “conclusory and self-serving.” Instead, they wanted to see more medical reports and tests to prove her claim. So they denied her claim for more treatment.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed again and found you can prove a change of condition based on testimony. Further, the Court held you can prove your case even without medical tests and reports. Hence, the Court ruled the workers’ compensation Act does not require proof of a certain kind. Because courts have made awards based on both subjective and objective proof, either will do. Therefore, courts cannot ignore any one type of evidence.

So What Does It Mean?

Perhaps now it will be easier to prove a change of condition claim. After all, the goal in every workers comp case is full recovery. However, that is not always possible if seriously injured. And although you still need medical evidence, testimony is now also helpful. In addition, the Commission should give a claimant’s testimony more weight. Of course, the testimony must be credible and trustworthy. But now, getting more medical treatment is easier now. Given the restrictions of workers compensation, medical care is the most valuable part of any claim. Because the laws are so complex, it is important to hire an experienced workers comp attorney to help you. While we hope you never need us, we are here if you do. Call now and let’s start your road to recovery.