Can a Worker Get Unlimited Compensable Consequences?

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In a case handled by Herndon workplace injury lawyer Doug Landau, the prior post on “compensable consequences” is addressed in terms of “how far can you go?” In other words, can you get a compensable consequence of a compensable consequence of a compensable consequence under Virginia workers compensation law?

FACTS:

While an original workplace injury may be covered under workers comp, and a later “compensable consequence” may also get coverage, a compensable consequence of a compensable consequence, even if ALL the doctors agree it is related, may not be protected under the law of job site injuries in Virginia

A Warrenton plumbing supervisor tried to fend off a dog attack with his right arm, and injured his right hand. On the date of accident, the Fauquier Hospital Emergency Room doctor would not close the lacerations due to the “very high risk for infection.” Unfortunately, infection and sepsis set in.  When he was bitten by the dog in his right hand, the animal’s saliva, bodily fluids and tooth fragment caused sepsis infection. The doctors noted the dog’s tooth in the injured worker’s hand. He collapsed in the hospital because of the sepsis, and then had to undergo six weeks of infusions. He had an adverse reaction to a drug, and then got shingles down his right ear to the shoulder. So the hospital put in a line into his arm for infusions of antibiotics. The PICC line inserted into his left arm for treatment of the animal bite wound infection resulted in nerve damage to the left arm.  This unfortunate worker now had left arm numbness, weakness and tingling upon removal of the PICC line. The injured worker’s authorized treating doctor supported causation of this “compensable consequence,” and was still the treating doctor at the time of the Hearing in Manassas, Virginia. The medical bills from the infection and hospital stay were astronomical, and the workers comp insurance company did not want to pay for any of it.

RESULT:

Lawyer Landau was able to get the dog bite, tooth fragment, septic infection and all of the hospitalization covered under workers comp. However, the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission ruled that while the innocent victim could get coverage for the “compensable consequence” of the infection, he could not get additional payments for the removal of the PICC line and damage to the other arm or hand. The judge wrote,

Numerous cases have clearly established that where “A” causes “B” and “B” causes “C,” “C” is not compensable. 

So, according to Herndon disability lawyer Doug Landau, “the bottom line is that DIRECT injuries caused at the time of the workplace injuries, and then the FIRST layer of injury or damage thereafter, may be covered, but once you get to other “layers of the onion,” the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission will likely not find protection under the law, even where the treating doctors and logic all point to the job accident as the cause for the subsequent injuries, deterioration or conditions.”

If you or someone you care about has been injured at work, and there are questions as to how best to proceed, please call us at (703)-796-9555 or contact us via e-mail here on our Landau Injury website.