Uncontradicted Testimony Insufficient to Prove Work-Related Accident

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal of Louisiana recently affirmed a workers’ compensation judge’s order denying a claimant’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits on the grounds that the claimant failed to prove that he sustained a compensable work injury.  The Court of Appeal found no manifest error in the trial court’s finding that although the claimant produced uncontradicted testimony, there were sufficient circumstances to cast suspicion on the reliability of the claimant’s testimony.

The claimant was working as a stock clerk for Employer.  He alleged that in the course and scope of his employment, he felt immediate pain while lifting boxes of merchandise from pallets.  The incident was not witnessed.  In addition to the lack of witnesses, there were additional circumstances that called the injury into question.  The claimant did not report his injury despite being specifically instructed to do so upon being hired.  In the days following the alleged accident, he had multiple conversations with his supervisor, but did not mention the injury.  Additionally, the claimant testified that he was in excruciating pain, and that although he intended to go to the emergency room, he retained an attorney instead.  Further review also revealed that the claimant had sustained previous injuries to the same body parts that he failed to disclose to Employer upon being hired, despite Employer’s specific inquiry regarding pre-existing injuries or accidents.  The totality of the circumstances led the trial court to conclude that the claimant failed to prove he sustained a work-related injury.

On appeal, the claimant maintained that the trial court erred in concluding that he failed to establish the occurrence of an on-the-job accident.  Generally, an employee may prove that an unwitnessed accident occurred in the course and scope of his employment by his testimony alone, unless other evidence discredits the worker’s version of the incident.  Here, the circumstances and evidence created significant doubt regarding the credibility of the claimant’s testimony.  Therefore, the Court of Appeal affirmed the workers’ compensation judge’s ruling.


Garcia v. Rouses Enterprise, Inc.