Compensability – Claimant was unable to prove a compensable work injury due to an aggravation of pre-existing condition/special hazard condition based on his testimony alone where evidence established injury and need for treatment were not causally related to work incident.
Claimant was a truck driver with a significant pre-existing history of right foot problems. Claimant alleged that he jumped out of his work truck which resulted in a “pop” and significant pain in his right foot, along with an inability to continue working. Claimant acknowledged that he had prior foot symptoms, but attempted to minimize the severity of his prior injuries and treatment. He further testified at hearing that his pain had worsened since the work injury and had aggravated his prior injury resulting in the need for surgery. Due to the facts of the case, Respondents did not have a valid argument that exiting the truck in and of itself did not constitute a “special hazard” of employment due to the height of the steps. Instead, Respondents argued that the work incident did not cause a new injury or otherwise aggravate claimant’s pre-existing condition. In other words, it was Respondents’ position that claimant’s right foot injury and need for treatment was completely pre-existing and that the treatment claimant received would have occurred regardless of the work incident. Respondents did not call any witnesses at hearing and relied solely on claimant’s prior medical records along with an orthopedic expert record review and record support from the treating physician. The ALJ credited the evidence presented by Respondents and found that claimant’s pain at work was more likely due to his pre-existing condition and was not aggravated or accelerated by his employment. Accordingly, the claim was denied and dismissed.
Julian Sandoval v. Safeway Inc. W.C. No. 5-105-501 (March 3, 2020)