Third Circuit Upholds Finding of a Work Place Accident

Employer, Bechtel O.G.C. Construction Services, Inc. appeals a judgment in favor of Claimant, Evrin Ford, who had previously worked with Employer as a journeyman materials handler. Claimant alleged that on July 12, 2014, she sustained an injury to her lower back due to repetitive bending and lifting. Employer denied the allegations based on the definition of “accident” as defined in La. R.S. 23:1021(1). On appeal, Employer contended that the trial court erred in finding that Claimant sustained an accident arising out of and in the course of her employment, in ordering Employer to authorize medical treatment when proper procedures were not followed, and awarding penalties and attorney fees.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals analyzed the extent to which Claimant’s injury occurred at the workplace or at her home. Claimant had previously testified that she was involved in extensive and laborious work prior to her injury. Claimant had informed her supervisor that she was experiencing symptoms but did not realize the full extent of her pain until her symptoms had progressed at home that evening. Claimant thereafter sought immediate medical attention with her family practitioner, who later declined to continue treatment based on his denial of workers’ compensation injuries. Upon receiving notification of the injury, Employer referred Claimant to a physician of their choosing. Claimant’s physician of choice later diagnosed her with an aggravation of pre-existing disc herniation, which was caused by the work performed on July 12, 2014.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Workers’ Compensation Judge that Claimant sustained an injury during the course and scope of her employment. Additionally, the Court determined that Employer had not submitted any medical evidence to rebut Claimant’s evidence that she sustained an aggravation. As such, the Employer was directed to authorize medical treatment in accordance with the LWC Form 1010 requesting authorization for treatment, which was submitted to Employer’s insurance carrier. The Court agreed that penalties and attorney fees were properly assessed at the trial court level and also awarded fees for work performed on the appeal in accordance with McKelvey v. City of Dequincy, 07-604, pp. 11-12 (La.App. 3 Cir 11/14/07).

Ford v. Bechtel