Five Recent Workers’ Comp Cases You Should Know About (10/14/2011) – Hospice Nurse Distracted by Cell Phone Receives Compensation Benefits From Auto Crash

Larson's Spotlight on Cell Phone, Coal Dust, Neck Injury, Disqualification to Benefits, and Surviving Spouse Entitlement to Death Benefits. Larson's surveys the latest case developments that you need to know about. Thomas A. Robinson, the staff writer for Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, has compiled the list below.

VA: Nurse Distracted by Cell Phone Receives Comp Benefits From Auto Crash

A divided Court of Appeals of Virginia recently affirmed the award of benefits to a nurse who sustained injuries in an automobile accident that occurred when she was distracted by a blinking light on her cell phone.  She glanced away from the road and lost control of her vehicle.  Noting that the nurse's employer required her to monitor her cell phone at all times, a majority of the appellate court held her injuries arose out of her employment under Va. Code Ann. § 65.2-101. The court also observed that the test was not whether the actual call was from the employer-it wasn't-but whether the injury could fairly be traced to the employment.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Va. App. LEXIS 299. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 12.02, 14.05, 20.01.

IL: Commission Incorrectly Ignored 40 Years of Coal Dust Exposure In Refusing Claimant's Claim for COPD Disability Benefits

An Illinois appellate court recently held that there was not sufficient evidence to support the opinion of the employer's medical expert-which opinion was relied upon by the Commission to deny a claimant's claim-that the claimant's significant history of inhalation of coal dust was not a contributing or aggravating cause of his COPD.  Where the undisputed evidence was that the claimant had nearly 40 years of exposure to both coal dust and cigarette smoke, the Commission's finding that his COPD was solely caused by cigarette smoking was not plausible.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Ill. App. LEXIS 1085. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 9.02.

MO: Police Chief's Neck Injuries While Washing Windshield of Patrol Car Are Compensable

A Missouri appellate court recently affirmed an award of benefits to a police chief who sustained a neck injury as he leaned inside his patrol car to clean the windshield following the end of his work day.  The court agreed that competent and substantial evidence supported a finding that the activity of keeping patrol cars clean was an integral part of the job of the city's officers.  The court acknowledged that in earlier years, the chief sustained multiple injuries while riding a bull.  It noted also the conflict in medical evidence and that it was for the Commission to weigh that evidence and it did so in favor of the police chief.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Mo. App. LEXIS 1329. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 12.01, 27.02.

LA: Injured Worker's "Helping Out" in Wife's Custom-Made Goose Call Business Does Not Result in Disqualification From Further Disability Benefits

That a workers' compensation claimant helped make custom goose calls for his wife's company, sometimes handled phone orders, and was pictured on the company website giving instructions on how to use the calls, did not constitute workers' compensation fraud where other evidence indicated he had no earnings from the business and performed no other work for hire.  The court observed that the goose call company's tax preparer testified that the claimant did not receive a salary and the employer presented no evidence that the claimant was making any money or was capable of doing any physical work.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 La. App. LEXIS 1165. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 39.03.

VA: Surviving Spouse Entitled to Death Benefits In Spite of Legal Separation From Deceased

Reversing a decision by the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission that found a wife was not entitled to death benefits under Va. Code Ann. § 65.2-512 because she was not an "actual dependent" of the decedent under Va. Code Ann. § 65.2-515(A)(1), a Virginia appellate court recently held that that the commission erred in focusing on the purpose of the settlement agreement, rather than its effect. The overwhelming, uncontroverted evidence clearly demonstrated that the wife relied on the decedent for her reasonable necessaries. The fact that the spouses had separated and entered into a written agreement in which the wife waived spousal support was not controlling; the decedent continued to support both the wife and their minor daughter and the evidence indicated the wife relied on that support for reasonable necessaries at the time of his death. Consequently, she was an "actual dependent" under § 65.2-515(A)(1) and entitled to death benefits.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2011 Va. App. LEXIS 305. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 96.06, 97.02.

Source: Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the nation's leading authority on workers' compensation law

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