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Louisiana worker denied workers' compensation

Under Louisiana law, an employee can substantiate an on-the-job injury through his or her testimony alone. If there is no evidence contradicting that testimony and there is evidence to corroborate it, the employee may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. A recent Court of Appeals case illustrates the importance of having corroborating evidence.

A journeyman wireman claims to have hurt his back while installing conduits in a hospital that weighed approximately 100 pounds each. As he was pulling one of the conduits up a ladder, he claims to have felt pain in his back and told the apprentice he was working with about his pain. The man also alleges that he almost fell onto an overturned cart earlier that same day. The man said another worker witnessed the incident and he told that coworker that he had hurt his back.

The next day, the man called into work saying that he could not come to work because of his back injury. He then applied for workers' compensation benefits. He later claimed that he had not told his employer about the injury the day before because he was unaware of the procedure for reporting such an incident. As it turns out, the man had once before filed a workers' compensation claim. The apprentice was not called to substantiate the journeyman wireman's story, and the coworker did not recall anything about a cart or the man's back injury.

The court found that the man's testimony was inconsistent with the facts and that he did not call witnesses to corroborate his testimony. He had not fulfilled the requirements under Louisiana law regarding self-reporting. The Court of Appeals denied the man's request for workers' compensation benefits based on the evidence, or lack of evidence, before them. The outcome may have been different if the man had reported the injury the day it occurred and called the apprentice to testify on his behalf.

Source: riskandinsurance.com, "Inconsistencies in wireman's testimony curb benefits for back injury," July 22, 2013