Non-Allowed Conditions Do Not Bar Wage Loss

Non-Allowed Conditions Do Not Bar Wage Loss

Posted: August, 2002

State, ex rel. WCI Steel, Inc. v. Indus. Comm. (7/10/02), 96 Ohio St.3d 24, 2002-Ohio-3315.

Issue: Does a doctor’s report on a BWC form which indicates restrictions due to allowed conditions, but also provides restrictions including non-allowed conditions, support wage loss?

Background: Townsend requested wage loss in a claim allowed for “non-displaced fracture coccyx; lumbosacral sprain; major depressive disorder; herniated right disc L4-5.”

The Commission awarded wage loss. The employer filed a mandamus challenge to the wage loss award.

The Court of Appeals granted a limited writ of mandamus, finding that the doctor’s report did not support wage loss.

The Court of Appeals’ discounted the doctor’s report because (1) the doctor had indicated on a BWC form that Townsend had restrictions against using his hands for fine manipulation, which implied that the doctor had considered non-allowed conditions; and (2) a narrative statement by the doctor indicated that Townsend could not lift more than 15 lbs, but on a listing of weight ranges on a BWC form filled out by the doctor had indicated that Townsend could never lift 11-20 lbs.

Decision: The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and denied the writ.

When considering whether the doctor’s report was inconsistent with the allowed conditions, it is important to understand where the information came from. The doctor provided information on a BWC form.

In response to a question asking for the restrictions due to the allowed conditions, the doctor provided limitations which were not inconsistent with the allowed conditions. The doctor provided the restriction against using hands for fine manipulation in a different section of the form which asked the doctor to identify all physical limitations.

Because the doctor indicated that the allowed conditions caused the wage loss, the form supports the award of wage loss compensation. A claimant may have non-allowed conditions, and will not be denied compensation because of non-allowed conditions, as long as the allowed conditions independently cause the disability.

Editor’s Comment: The Court also found the weight restrictions provided by the doctor’s report not inconsistent. The doctor used a BWC form which requested a narrative listing of restrictions. The doctor provided a restriction of 15 lbs.

The form also requested a listing of restrictions by filling out a check box which provided ranges of 1-10 lbs, 11-20 lbs, etc. Because the doctor restricted the claimant to 15 lbs, it was not inconsistent to indicate “never” for 11-20 lbs. because the claimant could never lift above 15 lbs.

Information courtesy of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin. Subscribe to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin to keep informed about the Ohio workers’ compensation system.