Congratulations to our own Matt Ketcham for the victory in his appeal to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, effectively changing the law in Arkansas for the benefit of the hardworking people of our state. On behalf of his client, attorney Ketcham brought a workers’ compensation claim against the employer alleging that she sustained a compensable injury to a muscle deep in her right hip on July 11, 2018. With his help, the Arkansas Court of Appeals reversed the Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission, which had denied any and all compensation, and remanded the case back to the Administrative Law Judge for further proceedings.
On July 11, 2018, our client, a treatment nurse, reported an on-the-job injury to a muscle deep in her right hip that occurred after helping lift a patient from her bed to a gurney who was being transferred to the emergency room. Following her injury, the nurse saw a number of doctors, including a pain specialist and physical therapist from the date of the initial injury to November 13, 2018.
Following a hearing on the nurse’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits, the judge denied benefits for her injury, finding that she failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she sustained a compensable injury to the muscle deep in her right hip and failed to provide evidence in the form of objective medical findings to support her contention that she suffered spasms related to the injury on July 11, 2018. Arkansas Code Annotated section 11-9-102(4)(A)(i) defines compensable injury as “[a]n accidental injury causing internal or external physical harm to the body . . . arising out of and in the course of employment and which requires medical services or results in disability or death. An injury is accidental only if caused by a specific incident and is identifiable by time and place of occurrence.” Furthermore, the judge did not find the nurse’s testimony credible. The judge stated, “She [the nurse] stated she had pain and spasms 1–4 times per day. The medical evidence, however, does not support her contentions. She was treated by several physicians, none of whom found evidence of spasms or made any notations for objective findings of spasms.”
Attorney Ketcham appealed the judge’s denial of benefits to the Workers’ Compensation Commission in Little Rock, which affirmed and adopted the initial judge’s opinion. The Commission ruled that the medical evidence did not contain objective medical findings in the form of the doctors’ observations as to the noted tenderness or the need for prescribed treatment for muscle spasms in the form of medication, physical therapy, and pain management.
On appeal, the Arkansas Court of Appeals concluded the nurse was diagnosed with a strain of muscle, fascia, and tendon of right hip, received medication, and subsequently was referred to physical therapy and a pain specialist for relief. The Court of Appeals agreed with Ketcham’s argument that his client’s diagnosis of muscle strain, along with prescribed treatment of medications, physical therapy, and pain management, was sufficient to establish objective findings. Also, under Arkansas law, there is no requirement that a doctor, physical therapist, or other medical providers must observe a patient having a muscle spasm before an employee’s injury can be compensable. Therefore, the Arkansas Court of Appeals reinstated the nurse’s case and sent the case back to the original judge for further determination of whether she suffered a compensable injury to her piriformis muscle in her hip and thigh on July 11, 2018, whether she is entitled to medical treatment, and whether she is entitled to other applicable benefits.
What To Do If Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Was Denied
Employers and their insurance companies often do everything they can to avoid paying workers’ compensation claims. Suppose your workers’ compensation benefits were denied. In that case, you can file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to request a hearing with an attorney’s help. A workers’ compensation judge’s decision is not often overturned, but it does happen. Your lawyer may argue the judge did not consider a critical piece of evidence or overlooked essential facts of the case. The Workers’ Compensation Commission, Arkansas Court of Appeals or the Arkansas Supreme Court can send back the decision and order the judge to rehear your claim. If you believe that your employer or the insurance company wrongfully denied your claim, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately.
Hire Caddell Reynolds to Handle Your Workers’ Compensation Case
Attorney Matthew Ketcham and his fellow attorneys at Caddell Reynolds continue to fight for injured workers’ rights and benefits across Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. We’ve settled many cases for our clients and have recovered maximum compensation on behalf of injured workers. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured on the job, call the experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation lawyers at Caddell Reynolds for help at 800-671-4100. We want to make it as easy as possible for you, so contact us for a FREE case evaluation and we’ll answer questions you may have about your workers’ compensation claim.