Roby v. Caterpillar Inc., 042619 ARWC, G806874

Docket Nº:CLAIM G806874
Case Date:April 26, 2019
CLAIM No. G806874
Arkansas Workers Compensation
Before The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission
April 26, 2019
          A hearing was held before ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE CHANDRA L. BLACK, in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas.           The claimant was represented by Mr. Willard Proctor, Jr., Attorney at Law, Little Rock, Arkansas.           Respondents were represented by David C. Jones, Attorney at Law, Little Rock, Arkansas.           CHANDRA L. BLACK, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE.          STATEMENT OF THE CASE          A hearing was held in the above-styled claim on March 5, 2019, in Little Rock, Arkansas. A Prehearing Telephone Conference was held in this matter on January 23, 2019. A Prehearing Order was entered on that same day. This Prehearing Order set forth the stipulations offered by the parties, their contentions, and the issues to be litigated.          The following stipulations were submitted by the parties, either pursuant to the Prehearing Order, or at the start of the hearing. I hereby accepted the following stipulations:          1. The Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission has jurisdiction of the within claim.          2. The employee-employer-insurance carrier relationship existed at all relevant times, including on September 26, 2018, at which time, the claimant sustained compensable injuries to his head, back, left ankle, and upper extremity. Respondents accepted this as a “medical only” claim.          3. At the time of his compensable incident, the claimant’s average weekly wage was $980.08. His compensation rates are $653.00 and $490.00.          4. All issues not litigated herein are reserved under the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Act.          5. This claim for additional benefits has been controverted by the respondents.          6. The respondents are entitled to an offset for any group health benefits paid on behalf of the claimant.          7. The respondents paid the claimant temporary total disability from December 12, 2018, through January 10, 2019. The respondents initiated payment of said benefits after Dr. Vargas took the claimant off work for 30 days.          8. The parties stipulated that the claimant has not reached the end of his healing period.          By agreement of the parties, the issues to be litigated at the hearing were as follows:          1. Whether the claimant has reached the end of his healing period. However, at the time of the hearing, the parties agreed that this was not an issue based on the records that the respondents submitted by Dr. Vargas.          2. Whether the claimant is entitled to temporary total disability benefits from September 27, 2018, through December 11, 2018; from January 11, 2019, through a date yet to be determined.          3. Whether the claimant is entitled to additional medical treatment. The parties also agreed to stipulate that the respondents continue to provide medical benefits on behalf of the claimant. As a result, this is no longer an issue to be litigated.          4. Whether the respondents are entitled to a credit for any overpayment should it be found that the claimant should have been performing light duty.          5. Whether the claimant’s attorney is entitled to a controverted attorney’s fee.          CONTENTIONS
Claimant contends that he is entitled to temporary total disability benefits from the date of the injury to date. He is unable to perform the temporary alternative duty assignments given his medical restrictions.
1. The respondents contend that this claim was appropriately accepted as a compensable “medical only,” and all reasonably necessary medical treatment was being provided.
2. The respondents contend that the claimant would not be entitled to temporary total disability benefits, as light duty was made available, and the claimant was notified of the light duty issues. While the respondents understand that the claimant’s personal family physician removed him from work, it does not appear that the doctor attempted to address whether the claimant could perform light duty, which was available in various capacities with the respondent employer herein.
3. The respondents contend that they would be entitled to an offset for any group health carrier, disability carrier, or unemployment benefits paid to or on behalf of the claimant, should the claimant have applied for and received said benefits.
4. The respondents would reserve the right to amend and supplement their contentions after discovery has been completed.
         The documentary evidence submitted in this case consists of the hearing transcript of March 5, 2019, and the documents contained therein.          The following witnesses testified at the hearing: the claimant, William Jack North, and Sarah Zigler.          DISCUSSION          At the time of the hearing, the claimant was 47 years old. He began working for the respondent-employer/Caterpillar on May 16, 2018. Caterpillar builds front loaders and various other heavy equipment. The claimant’s job title was Quality Inspector III. His employment duties included inspecting frames, rear frames, and paperwork. Occasionally, the claimant had to move frames back and forth on a cart. The claimant testified that he normally worked 40 to 67 hours a week, which involved strenuous labor.          With respect to his on-the-job injury of September 26, 2018, the claimant stated that he was called over by a coworker to inspect a frame. However, the claimant had to first collect some of his material out of the back. The claimant testified that on his way back, he got up on the platform, and he tripped and fell on some welding hose. According to the claimant, when he fell, he became entrapped between the welding machine and the ground. The claimant testified that he fell flat on his back, and hit his head on the welding machine. He further testified that he fell three or four feet from the platform. His injury occurred around 11:30 a.m. on September 26, 2018.          The claimant’s accidental fall was promptly reported to management. He was transported to Concentra Health Centers (AR), in North Little Rock for medical treatment. The claimant testified that he sustained injuries to his left ankle, left knee, elbow, lower back, neck, and the back of his head. Prior to his accidental fall, the claimant did not have problems with any of these areas of his body. Specifically, the claimant testified he was fairly active, especially with his children. According to the claimant, he previously coached basketball and T-ball. The claimant played catch-ball with his boys and engaged in general roughhousing with them. He also fished and participated in other activities with his kids.          According to the claimant, he has never filed a workers’ compensation claim. He admitted to going to the emergency room at Baptist in December of 2016. Although the claimant denied that this treatment was related to his current claim, he did not recall why he sought said treatment.          Regarding his treatment for his compensable fall of September 26, 2018, the claimant admitted that the company nurse (Mr. William Jack North) transported him to Concentra. According to the claimant, they performed x-rays, and triaged him for any injuries. At that point, the claimant was released back to work on light duty restrictions. The claimant testified that he was prescribed ibuprofen for his injuries.          He reported to work the next morning for his section meeting, and then he went to Concentra for therapy. Following his therapy session, the claimant did not return to work. According to the claimant, he told the medical staff at Concentra his body was aching. He essentially testified that he did not return to work on September 27 because his left leg, knee, back, and neck were aching, along with a slight headache.          On September 27, 2018, the claimant was first evaluated by Dr. Williams. The claimant admitted that Dr. Williams took him off work that same day. He stated that he explained to Dr. Williams that his body was sore. The claimant verified that he obtained a change of physician from the Commission to treat with Dr. Williams.          The claimant denied he was able to work on September 28, but he essentially testified that he went...

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