Those of you that follow this website may know that I follow the court decisions that affect AAFES workers’ compensation cases. Since my office handles a lot of these workers’ compensation cases across the United States and around the world, I like to stay abreast of these cases. This helps you and me.
In this article I discuss a recent case that my office was not involved with. But I think that reviewing the case can be helpful. Please keep in mind that I am simplistic in this article to achieve clarity and for brevity. In other words, I don’t want to get bogged down in the details and have you miss the important points.
A Central Theme
And if you have followed this website, you will have detected a theme that runs through my advice to injured workers bringing these types of claims - always, always tell the truth. The single most determinative issue in whether you win or lose is whether the Judge believes you or not. It really can be and usually is that simple. Stated differently, if the Judge thinks you are credible - - you have a much, much greater chance to win your AAFES case.
A Warehouse Back Injury
In this case the injured worker was a long-time AAFES warehouse worker. He sustained a back injury and reinjured his back during the course of his employment with AAFES. After the last injury, claimant underwent back surgery. The Judge found claimant was unable to return to his warehouse job. However, the Judge found that employer had shown suitable alternate employment. And the Judge found that claimant did not conduct a diligent job search.
The Judge found that all of the jobs identified by the employer were suitable because they were office-based, would not require claimant to operate a car or machinery, and did not conflict with claimant’s use of pain medication. The claimant appealed the Judges ruling and contended that there had been a worsening of his physical condition since the last award, such that he could no longer perform any job, including the jobs previously identified as suitable.
The Judge found that claimant was not credible that claimant failed to establish a change in his condition and, accordingly, is not entitled to have his permanent partial disability benefits award modified.
The Take Away Points
First, proving that you are injured and can’t return to your AAFES job when you have a non-scheduled injury - here a back injury - is simply the starting point.
Second, you have to show the Judge that you are actually looking for a job. Better yet, you find a job and be working at the time of your trial. Just because you got badly hurt at work, doesn’t mean that you are going to win. You have to show that you are trying. You have to get off your rear-end and look for work. I know that this is tough love for many of you - but, do you want to win? I know I do. So should you.
Third, nothing is more important than your credibility. Nothing else is close. Don’t fudge, exaggerate or stretch the truth.
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