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The Court of Civil Appeals Reverses Trial Court Award of Permanent Partial Disability Benefits in Favor of Schedule

DuBose Construction Company v. James Simmons
Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama
October 25, 2013

The Court of Civil Appeals reversed a trial award of permanent partial disability benefits, pursuant to the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act. James Simmons injured his knee in Alabama while working for DuBose Construction Company. After two corrective procedures, Simmons returned to work without restrictions and resumed his full duties. Simmons, however, testified that he ultimately left his job with DuBose because he was physically unable to perform the job tasks

At trial, Simmons testified that the work-related knee injury affected other parts of his body. The trial court found that Simmons suffered lower back problems allowed Simmons benefits outside the Alabama workers' compensation schedule for a leg injury. Dubose appealed, contending that the trial court had insufficient evidence to award outside the Alabama workers' compensation schedule for a leg injury, and that Simmons did not suffer any loss of earning capacity.

At trial, Simmons never specifically mentioned that the work-related injury affected his lower back, and Simmons never received treatment for lower back pain. Furthermore, plaintiff's treating physician testified that the knee injury did not extend to other parts of his body. It was noted that the trial court based its ruling on lower back pain, despite the lack of evidence to support any such back pain.

The Court of Civil Appeals remanded the claim back to the trial court to determine the degree of disability, if any, to Simmons' knee. Because the Court of Civil Appeals found that Simmons' injury was not compensable outside the Alabama workers' compensation schedule of injury, it declined to discuss the issue of loss of earning capacity.

Categories: Workers' Compensation
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