It’s not highly unusual that a 16-year-old boy would inflate his athletic ability or academic prowess at some point. However, those alleged statements by one teen in Idaho appear to have cost him a higher disability rating that could have led to a greater sum of workers’ compensation benefits.
That’s because the state hearing officer and the courts took into consideration his credibility when weighing his work injury case. He was hurt in 2004 when he slipped and fell on a patch of ice while taking the garbage outside of the fast food restaurant where he worked at the time.
More than 10 years later, in continuing to seek permanent partial disability benefits, plaintiff appealed a whole body impairment rating of 3 percent to the Idaho Supreme Court in Fairchild v. Kentucky Fried Chicken. The state high court took note of the fact that plaintiff “appeared prone to exaggeration” with his doctors, had inconsistent testimony and seemingly was untruthful regarding the reason he was fired from the chain after his injury.
Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys know claimant credibility can be key in these cases, which is why it’s important to always speak truthfully to your health care providers and the courts. Your attorney can provide you additional guidance as it pertains to your case.
In Fairchild, the teen suffered an undisputed compensable injury when he slipped and fell on ice at work, causing his body to pitch forward. His knees struck a concrete barrier, causing them both to bleed. He bandaged them up and notified his supervisor right away. Soon after, he sought medical attention and was diagnosed with patellofemoral pain and contusions. He was prescribed knee braces, stretching exercises, pain medication and ice. His symptoms continued, and he was prescribed physical therapy. He said this failed to help.
The doctor then ordered an MRI, but the results didn’t reveal any abnormality. He was ordered to continue with anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. About a month after the injury, claimant sought workers’ compensation benefits, which were approved.
Over the next seven years, plaintiff sought a second, third and fourth opinion on his injuries, including one from an orthopedic surgeon. Surgery at his age and for his condition was not recommended. The second doctor assigned him a permanent impairment rating of 3 percent. The third doctor assigned him an impairment rating of 0 percent. The fourth doctor assigned him an impairment rating of 7 percent.
He sought a finding of permanent partial impairment, to which employer objected and requested a workers’ compensation hearing.
The workers’ compensation commission determined plaintiff was not a credible witness. In addition to inaccuracies and inconsistencies in his testimony, he reportedly:
- Boasted to one doctor that he ran 20 miles per day before the accident, later amending his testimony in court to say he ran five miles daily;
- Told another doctor he earned mostly A’s and B’s in school, though his GPA was 2.5;
- Told the commission he was fired after filing his work injury because the restaurant wouldn’t give him alternative work; It was later revealed he had skipped out on a shift to play a music concert.
Taking all this into consideration, in addition to the evidence, commission determined plaintiff failed to prove his permanent partial impairment rating was higher than 3 percent, and that was the amount ultimately assigned and affirmed by the state supreme court.
For information on Atlanta work injury compensation, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., at 1-404-303-7770.
Fairchild v. Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sept. 25, 2015, Idaho Supreme Court
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Max Trucking v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Corp. – Employees or Independent Contractors? Oct. 8, 2015, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog