Mobile Airport Authority v. Etheredge

Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama

Mobile County | 94 So. 3d 397 | April 20, 2012

Foot Injury Exacerbates Back Injury and Leads to Permanent Total Disability

This case arose from a dispute over a workers' compensation claim for permanent-total-disability benefits filed by Robert Etheredge, an employee of Mobile Airport Authority. Etheredge was injured when a 300-pound manhole cover fell on his foot. Over time, he developed problems with his back due to an altered gait from his foot injury and a subsequent incident involving a tractor at work. 

Etheredge filed a complaint claiming compensation for his foot injury and later amended it to include the injury to his back. The employer acknowledged the foot injury but denied that they had notice of the second injury--his back. 

The trial court determined that the combination of Etheredge's foot injury, his altered gait caused by the foot injury, and the tractor accident aggravated his pre-existing degenerative disk disease in his lower back, rendering him permanently and totally disabled. As a result, the trial court awarded Etheredge permanent-total-disability benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act. 

On appeal, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision based on substantial evidence. The court ruled that Etheredge’s back-injury claim was not barred by the statute of limitations and that the employer had actual knowledge of the work-related tractor accident that resulted in injury. 

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