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Injured employee wins in Kansas court workers' comp decision

Recovery and a return to employment are priority concerns of workers injured on the job. What Kansas work accident victims shouldn't have to worry about is whether benefits will cover job-related injuries.

A meat-packing employee went to court over an employer's refusal to pay for a medical evaluation. The cause for denied benefits was not a misdiagnosis but stemmed from the employer's belief the neck pain was unrelated to work.

The National Beef Packing Co. employee sought treatment at work for shoulder and neck pain. The company referred the worker for shoulder-only treatment.

A workers' compensation claim detailed the shoulder and neck injuries. The neck injury was confirmed by an independent medical evaluation.
The employee suffered a back injury in a car accident after the workers' comp claim had been filed. A physician diagnosed the medical problem as a spinal compression fracture.

The patient never claimed her neck was injured or aggravated in the crash. The doctor who treated the accident victim was not told about the previous workplace injury, but told the patient the back trauma was independent of a neck injury.
Meat-packing company officials asserted that the employee's neck was hurt in the accident, not on the job. A Kansas Court of Appeals ordered the workers' comp benefits to be paid.

The court agreed the employee's neck injuries had not taken place during the crash. The neck pain was in the workers' compensation claim before the accident. The hospital's patient record contained no mention of a neck injury.
The employer's claim that benefits should not cover the first of two evaluations was dismissed.

Sometimes the real pain in the neck isn't a work injury but an employer or insurer who attempts to deny rightful benefits. Unpaid medical bills and wage losses can sink an injured worker's finances quickly without workers' compensation. Preparation to fight for benefits starts with the advice of a legal professional.

Source: riskandinsurance.com, "Car accident after work incident doesn't end benefits for neck injury," Jan. 10, 2013

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