Missouri: Polio Renders Worker Totally Disabled

Claimant fell hundreds of times before in his life, but in 2008 he slipped on a slick floor in his employer’s bathroom, lost control of his crutches, and injured his neck. He never returned to work after two neck surgeries. The Commission affirmed an award for permanent total tried solely against the second injury fund and found the 60-year old worker unemployable. Redfern v Autozone, 2013 Mo WCLR Lexis 6 (Jan 10, 2013).

Claimant described polio since he was 18 months old and the disease affected both legs throughout his life. In this case, claimant reported that decreased mobility made it difficult to perform job tasks. His expert indicated polio impacted his ability to climb stairs or stand more than 10 minutes at a time. The condition made it more difficult in a prior job to sell encyclopedias door to door.

The case also documents substantial limitations on major life activities. The ALJ notes without polio “it can reasonably be inferred that he would, despite his neck surgeries, still have the ability to dress and wash himself in a normal fashion, go up and down stairs, go up ladders, open public doors, report to work on a consistent daily basis, use the restroom, obtain supplies, and go to lunch without help.” As a result of his neck injury he could no longer use crutches and required assistance for many tasks.

Polio crippled about 35,000 Americans a year in the 1940s and 1950s. Researchers have suggested 1 in 4 people exposed to polio may experience recurrent symptoms of post-polio syndrome later in their lives. Claimant was born in 1951, 4 years before the polio vaccine was introduced.

Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug's Mo. Workers' Comp Alerts.

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