HAMBERGER & WEISS LLP secures disallowance by proving that the treating doctor had insufficient knowledge of the claimant’s job to give a credible opinion on an occupational disease.

HAMBERGER & WEISS LLP secures disallowance by proving that the treating doctor had insufficient knowledge of the claimant’s job to give a credible opinion on an occupational disease.

Our partner John Land recently prevailed in a case where a housekeeper alleged an injury to her left leg from repetitive walking, as well as standing on her feet for long periods of time. Although her treating doctor had found a causal relationship for a leg injury to the claimant’s work, John was able to elicit testimony from the doctor in which he admitted that he had not seen the claimant since an initial evaluation several months ago, never examined the claimant’s spine, and had only a general understanding of the claimant’s job duties as a housekeeper.

John obtained admissions from the doctor that he did not know how many days per week the claimant works, how long her shifts are, how many breaks are provided, whether she uses machinery, what if any heavy lifting she does, whether she needs to lift or carry anything, and the distance she walks in a typical shift.

In disallowing the claim, the Workers’ Compensation Law Judge credited John’s argument that the Workers’ Compensation Board has consistently held that only generalized knowledge of the claimant’s job without a specific understanding of what his or her duties are is insufficient to sustain a credible opinion of a causal relationship with an occupational disease. Instead, a doctor must be able to identify a distinctive feature of the claimant’s employment that has resulted in the condition complained of.

Like all of us at Hamberger and Weiss, John is alert to the nuances of case law that prevent poorly informed or cursory opinions on causal relationships from forming the basis of potentially costly claims.

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