“One Year Rule” – Further Guidance about Workplace Injuries Given to Employers by the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court
Last month, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court ruled in Washington v. Spracklin, Doc. 212 No. 1461 (2013), a back condition is normally considered recurrent and not compensable “if the plaintiff has continuing back pain complaints within a year up to the date of the accident. Otherwise, the Court generally finds that the condition is an aggravation of a preexisting condition and compensable.” In this case, the plaintiff had a history of back problems before the work accident, but since there was no evidence of any complaints of back pain for a year prior to the date of the accident, the Court ruled that the plaintiff’s back condition was either caused directly by the accident or was the result of an aggravation of a preexisting condition and was therefore compensable.
This case serves as a helpful predictor of how the Court will rule in the situation of an injured employee with a previous medical condition in existence up to the date of injury. Generally, it appears that employers should follow the “One Year Rule” – if in the year leading up to the date of injury there are no medical records evidencing complaints of pain by the employee, the Court will likely find the new injury to be an aggravation of a preexisting condition and therefore the employee will be able to collect from the employer. However, if there are medical records of an employee’s complaints in the year prior to the accident, the Court is apt to attribute the new injury to the recurrent medical problem and find it not compensable. This “One Year Rule” demonstrates the necessity for employers to document all medical complaints made by employees in order to have a defense in potential future workers’ compensation claim.
For more information regarding workplace accidents and employees’ recurrent medical conditions, please contact any of the workers’ compensation attorneys at Baylor Evnen at (402) 475-1075.