Injury From Fitness Exam Workers Comp Though Off-Clock When Suffered

The case of Sanders v. Rollet Brothers was decided by the Missouri Labor and Industrial Commission on January 27, 2016. The administrative law judge who heard the case awarded temporary disability benefits to the injured worker. Danny Sanders had suffered a lower back injury in 2011 from lifting boxes while working for Buchheit loading shingles. After treatment for the back injury for few months the company doctor released him from treatment, with no further symptoms or limitations.

Then in March or April of 2013 Mr. Sanders started going to work for a trucking company, Rollet Brothers. In June 2013 he attended a WorkSTEPS program and passed it. Then on June 24, 2013 Sanders was sent to a rehab center a post-employment fit-for-duty test evaluation. The evaluation was a functional employment test to determine whether he possessed the ability to safely and effectively perform the required job. He reported no pain or discomfort at the completion of this testing and was returned to full duty with no restrictions.

On October 1, 2013 the same employee was ordered by his employer to go to a different rehab center for a post-employment/fit-for-duty evaluation. While lifting 80 pounds up four feet off the floor as part of the fitness-for-duty examination his employer ordered him to undergo, Mr. Sanders had to stop lifting due to pain, injuring his lower back, hip and leg. His employer Rollet Brothers was notified of this accident and injury. The injured worker hired a workmen’s compensation attorney from her area of Missouri who filed a workers compensation claim on these injuries demanding workers compensation benefits from his lifting in the course of fitness testing but while he was not working at his usual job and off the clock. His employer and their workers comp insurance claimed that the injuries he suffered were not mainly work-related because he was not actually working at the time and was off the clock getting medically tested for fitness to work at the company’s request.

The company-selected doctor they sent him to for injuries he suffered while being tested were more caused by preexisting back problems than due to the lifting accident he suffered in the course of his fit-for-duty evaluation. The company doctor also claimed that prior records from his 2011 work accident while working for a previous employer were the main cause (prevailing factor) in his suffering back injury. The doctor his workers compensation attorney sent him to who evaluated Sanders concluded that his lifting accident at the evaluation place was the prevailing (main) factor in causing his current injury and temporary disability from it and that he needed a lumbar spine MRI to see if had nerve root impingement. He also disagreed with the company doctor evaluator’s conclusions that prior injuries were the main cause of his back and hip pain. In his claim Sanders’ workmen’s compensation attorney demanded medical treatment, temporary total off-work and permanent disability benefits. He could have gone to a St. Louis workers compensation attorney but went to a local attorney in Perryville. Missouri workers compensation law is much the same all over the state.

The workmen’s compensation administrative law judge who heard the employee’s claim for medical treatment and temporary disability— which the employer had denied by claiming that Danny Sanders was not hurt on the job because at the time of the lifting accident was 1.) not actually working but just getting a medical evaluation, though at the request of his boss, and 2.) not on the clock working— found that his lifting accident during medical evaluation was still work-related to entitle him to medical treatment benefits and temporary off-work money benefits. He found that Sanders injury was suffered during work-related employment as Missouri Workers Compensation Law requires even though he was not working his usual job and was off the clock.

The administrative law judge hearing Mr. Sanders’ claim for temporary medical treatment benefits and temporary lost pay benefits agreed with him and the evaluation doctor his workers comp lawyer sent him to. The employer then appealed to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, which agreed with the administrative law judge and ordered the employer to pay both medical treatment benefits and temporary wage loss benefits. The Commission held that an employer’s liability and responsibility to pay workers compensation benefits to its employees “is not limited to duties or that work which the employee was originally engaged to perform or to the employee’s usual work…[but that] the contract of employment may be enlarged or broadened if the employer directs the performance of additional duties or acts outside the usually scope of employment.”

The Commission reasoned that since Mr. Sanders was directed by his employer Rollet Brothers to participate in the WorkSTEPS program as a condition of his continued employment,” which they scheduled and paid for and would have terminated his employment for had he not participated in and then injured himself during while lifting weights he was told to lift, was a work-related accident that arose out of the scope and course of his employment. They felt that “he was completing a task he was directed to do” even though while not on the job, which therefore should have been considered part of his employment. They also found “a causal connection between the work activity and the injury,” being “additional duties or acts out his usual scope of employment”
that his employer ordered him to do or else lose his job if he failed to go along. The Commission also agreed with and was convinced that the worker’s own doctor expert and disagreed with the company doctor expert to find that Sanders’ lifting of weights as part of the test was the primary (main) factor in causing his back injury, not anything preexisting his lifting accident.

As you can see from this case, one good reason a worker injured on the job in a work accident or while doing anything such as a medical exam or treatment his employer orders him to take part in in to keep his job really should consult and hire a workers compensation lawyer. Even when the company finally sends you out to a doctor for treatment, the doctors they choose for treatment will do everything they can to deny or minimize your work injuries. They could even admit your injuries on the job but blame them mainly on preexisting degenerative changes rather than on the work accident. As in Sanders’ case the boss and the company doctor he or his workers compensation insurance sends you to for treatment or evaluation will go out of their way to blame any of your work injuries on pre-existing degeneration (like arthritis) or previous injuries or conditions they can find or come up with. A good, experienced hard-fighting workers compensation attorney can gather up all the medical treatment records and send you the injured worker hurt on the job out for an evaluation by medical experts who will work in you the employee’s interests and enable you the injured worker to prove your case to a workmen’s compensation judge.

Have you suffered a work-related injury?

If you get hurt on the job in the course of your work for an employer, you need to go consult and then hire a good attorney to fight for your rights to enforce your rights to workers compensation benefits that the company has denied you. It happens all the time that while the original treating doctors the company sends you to finds that your injuries suffered on the job were work-related, the experts they send you to later on will deny it and claim your injuries never were mainly work-related.

As the Sanders case shows, often employers and their workers’ compensation insurance companies have to be dragged kicking and screaming into paying the workers’ compensation benefits a judge has already awarded to the their employees injured on the job in an accident or work-related repetitive motion occupational disease such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

St. Louis Workers Compensation Center can defend your rights to workers compensation benefits and demand treatment and money benefits. We can help you fight to enforce your legal rights to benefits. We can fight to keep the company from cancelling or underpaying or refusing to pay your benefits. Please call Tom Hyatt for advice and assistance on any work-related injury suffered on the job in either St. Louis County, St. Louis City,  St. Charles County, Warren County, Lincoln County, Franklin County, Jefferson County, Montgomery County, Ste. Genevieve County, St. Francois County, or any other counties in eastern Missouri within 150 miles of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Our consultations are completely free of charge. Tom Hyatt will talk to you about your case right away. He will fight as hard he can to enforce all of your rights to Missouri workers compensation benefits. Our attorney’s fee would be a modest percentage of the Missouri workers’ comp disability benefits we get for you. Please call now for a free consultation. (See Contact Us).

That includes a lot of towns and cities from the City of St. Louis; Ballwin, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Berkeley, Black Jack, Chesterfield, Crestwood, Creve Coeur, Dellwood, Ellisville, Eureka, Fenton, Ferguson, Florissant, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Jennings, Manchester, Maryland Heights, Normandy, Overland, Pacific, Pine Lawn, Rock Hill, St. Ann, St. John, Sunset Hills, University City, Valley Park, Vinita Park, Webster Groves, Wildwood in St. Louis County; Augusta, Cottleville, Dardenne Prairie, Defiance, Foristell, Harvester, Lake St. Louis, O’Fallon, St. Charles, St. Peters, Weldon Springs, Wentzville and West Alton in St. Charles County; Beaufort, Gerald, Gray Summit, Labadie, Lonedell, Mt. Hope, New Haven, Pacific, Robertsville, St. Clair, Stanton, Sullivan, Union, Villa Ridge and Washington in Franklin County; Elsberry, Foley, Hawk Point, Millwood, Moscow Mills, Old Monroe, Olney, Silex, Troy, Truxton and Winfield in Lincoln County; Arnold, Barnhart, Byrnes Mill, Cedar Hill, Crystal City, De Soto, Dittmer, Festus, Grubville, Fletcher, Herculaneum, High Ridge, Hillsboro, House Springs, Imperial, Kimmswick, Olympian Village and Pevely in Jefferson County; Aspenhoff, Bernheimer, Corcord Hill, Hollstein, Hopewell, Innsbrook, Marthasville, Minden, Pendleton, Pinckney, Truesdale, Warrenton and Wright City in Warren County; as well as many other towns and cities in the counties listed above and all other counties in eastern and central Missouri.

Our consultations are completely free of charge. Tom Hyatt will talk to you about your case right away. He will fight as hard he can to enforce all of your rights to Missouri workers compensation benefits. Our attorney’s fee would be a modest percentage of the Missouri workers’ comp disability benefits we will get for you. Please call now for a free consultation. (See Contact Us).