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North Carolina: Lay Testimony Insufficient to Establish Asthma Claim

March 16, 2018 (1 min read)

The North Carolina Industrial Commission properly denied a worker’s claim for benefits in connection with his alleged work-related asthma on the basis that he failed to present expert medical evidence to establish that the conditions of his employment placed him at a greater risk than members of the general public for contracting the disease or condition. The worker did submit medical testimony by deposition, in which the physician initially opined that the worker’s asthma was very likely caused by his environmental exposure at the employer’s facility. The physician did not know, however, that the worker (a) had smoked cigarettes after 2005; (b) had complained of wheezing in 2007 and 2008; and wore a respirator mask during the entirety of his employment with the employer. The physician ultimately testified that a different history might affect his opinions on causation. The worker contended his own testimony as to the dusty conditions at work was sufficient to establish his claim, but the appellate court disagreed. Such a determination was beyond a layperson's understanding given that questions as to the root causes of asthma could only be answered by medical experts.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Briggs v. Debbie’s Staffing, Inc., 2018 N.C. App. LEXIS 217 (Mar. 6, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 128.05.

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