Permanent Total Disability

Christin Bechmann successfully defended a permanent total disability (PTD) claim before the Labor Commission. The petitioner had a shoulder injury with the employer and subsequently claimed he could no longer work within his restrictions of 25 pound lifting on an occasional basis. The medical panel determine the petitioner had a 30 pound lifting restriction with his left shoulder, among other restrictions. The petitioner had three prior work related shoulder claims which he failed to disclose prior to hearing and for which he had permanent restrictions. The restrictions from the current claim were the same as those he previously had prior to the industrial incident. The petitioner appealed arguing that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) failed to consider to consider that although the restrictions were the same as what he previously had, he could no longer work after this last work incident. Therefore, the petitioner argued, his impairment was significant. The case was remanded to the ALJ to make further findings regarding this element of PTD and other elements related to the petitioner’s ability to return to work reasonably available and work for which the petitioner was previously qualified. Ultimately the ALJ determined that even though the petitioner had a significant impairment it was not due to his industrial accident, but rather to his pre-existing shoulder condition. The ALJ therefore determined that the petitioner’s PTD was not the direct cause of the industrial accident. The claim for PTD was denied and dismissed. The petitioner is appealing this decision.

Case No. 17-0151 (July, 2019)

Claims Handling Tip: For any Utah claim, always check for the date of the alleged injury relative to when the worker reported the injury. Utah’s 180 provision is enforced and may be a viable defense to compensability.


From the September 2019 Newsletter