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Workers’ Compensation Case Study: Head Injury

By July 11, 2011August 22nd, 2018

This court case study is about a nursery/landscape employee, but the results of his injury could happen on the job in other industries as well. The court was challenged by multiple, conflicting doctor diagnoses. Read on to learn more!

Michael Crisp was employed by a lawn maintenance and landscape company. He was helping his coworkers install an erosion control fence which required a Bobcat earthmover bucket to press poles into the ground. While Crisp was erecting a pole, the Bobcat’s bucket detached and struck his head, neck, back, and upper extremity. Crisp was admitted to the hospital and was treated for abrasions and bruises behind the back of his head and neck as well as injuries to his back and right hand that sustained fractures. After surgery to repair the fractures, Crisp sought medical treatment for his headaches and neck and lower back pain.

Various doctors examined Crisp on numerous occasions concerning his head injuries over the next year. Three doctors each had a different physical and neurological diagnosis, but all was summarized as cognitive brain disorders that could be treated by a brain injury program.

Two more doctors had diagnoses. Dr. Thomas Collings diagnosed Crisp with a minor closed head injury. He did not believe it was a significant injury based on Crisp’s medical records and the low frequency of his complaints about headaches. On the other hand, Dr. David Price, a psychologist and adjunct professor at a local university concluded that there was no credible objective medical evidence that Crisp sustained a brain injury. He stated that Crisp suffered from multiple neurological disorders. The Workers Compensation Commission concluded that Dr. Moss’ expert report and opinions were more credible than Dr. Price’s report, and that Crisp sustained a head injury resulting in cognitive brain disorders but not a physical brain injury. The circuit court reversed that ruling and determined that Crisp sustained a physical brain injury.

Citing the findings of the numerous doctors who examined Crisp, the Court of Appeals determined that it supported reversing the circuit court’s judgment. Neither the doctors nor their examinations diagnosed him with a physical brain injury but suggested, quite to the contrary, that he was neurologically intact. Despite the conflicting evidence on the issue of a physical brain injury, it concluded that the circuit court erred in reversing the Workers Compensation Commission, citing previous case law where conflicts in evidence over a factual issue are resolved in favor of the Commission’s findings. While the evidence conflicted, the Commissions findings were supported by substantial evidence, and the circuit court’s decision was reversed.

If you have any questions about a new or existing Workers’ Compensation policy, please contact our specialists at The Flanders Group today by calling 800-462-6435. We are one of the leading Workers’ Compensation program providers in the state of New York and have many programs to assist you.