Cumulative Trauma Injury in Cherokee County, Alabama

This is a workers’ compensation claim from Cherokee County, Alabama, in the case ofLeesburg Yarn Mills, Inc. v. Hood. In 2009, Hood, was an employee of a company Leesburg Yarn Mills, Inc. (“Leesburg”). Hood, the injured employee, sought medical treatment for his hand pain from the company’s physician. He was diagnosed with a condition known as “trigger finger,” but told it was not work related.

In 2013, Hood sought treatment from a private orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Glenn Wilson, for his worsening hand pain. After more conservative treatment, Dr. Wilson performed surgery to release locked tendons in three fingers on Hood’s left hand. Hood had physical therapy treatment and was in recovery for approximately two months. Hood was released to return to regular duty. In December 2013, Hood filed a complaint against the company seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

Hood filed a Motion For a “Compensability Hearing”. After a hearing, the trial court, determined that Hood had a compensable injury and that Leesburg, the employer, was in fact, responsible for his workers’ compensa­tion benefits. The trial court retained jurisdiction for the purpose of determining the amount of permanent benefits to which Hood might be entitled. The company appealed and the case was affirmed.

The appellate court noted it was undisputed that Hood’s injury fell under the category of “cumulative trauma dis­order” according to Section 25-5-1(9) of the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. The question was whether the injury arose out of and in the course of Hood’s em­ployment.

In order to establish causation, a plaintiff must produce substantial evi­dence establishing both legal causation and medical cau­sation. Ex parte Trinity Indus., Inc., 680 So. 2d 269 (Ala. 1996). To establish legal causation, one need only estab­lish that the performance of one’s duties exposed him to a danger or risk materially in excess of that to which people are normally exposed.

Second an employee must establish medical causation by producing substantial evidence tend­ing to show that the exposure to risk or danger was in fact a contributing cause of the injury for which benefits are sought. Hood testified that his job required him to per­form repetitive pinching and grasping motions with his hands, and that he believed this caused his injuries.

Dr. Wilson testified that Hood’s injury occurred over time and with use. He further testified that he believed the repeti­tive nature of Hood’s job duties could cause Hood’s trig­ger finger injury. The Court noted that the trial court found Hood’s testimony especially credible.

Based on the testimony of the Dr., the Court concluded that the record would support a determination by the trial court that Hood’s injury arose out of and in the course of his employment with Leesburg.

The Court further held that a physician’s testimony related to “could have been” or “probably was” related to work, when coupled with lay tes­timony and other evidence, may be sufficient to establish medical causation. “Based on the evidence presented, the trial court reasonably could have been clearly convinced that Hood’s cumulative trauma in his employment legally and medically caused the injury.”

Anytime you are injured on the job notify your employer of the injury. Seek medical treatment through the employer’s physician. If you are not satisfied with the decision, ask for a second opinion or a panel of four. The lawyer in this case did an excellent job of seeing that the injured party was compensated for his on the job injury.

If you are hurt on the job and may have a workers’ compensation claim, please contact Ingram Law LLC, or Joseph A. Ingram at (205) 236-3997. to discuss your case.

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