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Billingsly v. City Of Gadsden

BILLINGSLY v. CITY OF GADSDEN

No. 2130863

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama

July 24, 2015

Plaintiff was employed with the City of Gadsden and was injured in an automobile accident while she was acting in the line and scope of her employment. Plaintiff filed a claim for benefits pursuant to the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act. Plaintiff claimed injury to her neck, shoulder, back, ribs, headaches, and certain emotional or psychological issues. Plaintiff was awarded a 25% impairment to the left shoulder, and was not awarded any workers’ compensation benefits related to any of her other claimed injuries.

The Court of Civil Appeals reviewed the findings of the trial court and the evidence submitted thereto and found that Plaintiff had a history of neck pain, and psychological treatment. Plaintiff’s medical records showed that plaintiff’s complaints of injury to her body other than her shoulder had resolved and were not compensable under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act, and thus affirmed the trial court’s findings with respect to plaintiff’s claimed injuries other than her shoulder.

Then, with respect to the shoulder, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed the trial court’s award based on a 25% impairment to the shoulder, finding that a shoulder injury is not a scheduled member. Pursuant to Ala. Code § 25-5-57(a)(3), compensation for permanent partial disability is supposed to be compensated at 66/23 percent of the difference between the average weekly earnings of the worker at the time of the injury and the average weekly earnings he or she is able to earn in his or her partially disabled condition.

Considering that plaintiff’s injury was not to a scheduled member under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation act, the trial court was supposed to make an express finding that plaintiff had lost an ability to earn an income, which it did not. Otherwise, no basis for an award would exist. The only portion of the judgment reversed was the award for the plaintiff. The proceedings were remanded to circuit court to determine the extent, if any, plaintiff’s injury impacted her ability to earn an income, and to award plaintiff benefits in accordance with such a determination.

Categories: Workers' Compensation
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