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Injured trucker wins disability claim dispute

Posted On: Jul. 26, 2018 1:20 PM CST

Injured trucker wins disability claim dispute

The Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel with the Supreme Court of Tennessee on Wednesday affirmed a circuit court ruling that determined a trucker’s total disability was caused by a workplace injury, and not by a contributing factor stemming from other health conditions, as his employer claimed.

Wesley David Fly was working in 2011 as a truck driver for Mr. Bult’s Inc., a waste management firm headquartered in Chicago, when he was injured while installing a tarp on a trailer. At the time of the injury, a force caused him to fall to his knees and he “felt something pop,” according to court documents in Wesley David Fly v. Mr. Bult’s Inc. et al., filed in the state Supreme Court in Jackson, Tennessee.

Following his injury, Mr. Fly saw a doctor in Tennessee who prescribed conservative treatment, including physical therapy. He went on to work on light duty for several months and “ tried to drive his truck a couple of times, but he experienced back pain and headaches severe enough to cause him to pull over. He returned to his physician, who ordered him to stop working,” records state.

In 2013, Mr. Fly had reached maximum medical improvement and was deemed “permanently and totally disabled” by a doctor, a status not disputed by his former employer, records state.

What was disputed, after a circuit court found that Mr. Fly “was not capable of gainful employment and awarded benefits for permanent total disability,” were the contributing causes of his injuries. The 57-year-old truck driver had previously worked “in restaurants, grocery stores, a rock quarry, a lumber mill, as a welder, and as a factory maintenance mechanic,” court records state.

On appeal, Mr. Bult’s Inc., argued “that non-work-related factors acting independently of (his) work injury contributed to his disability,” court records state.

Citing case law that declared that an “employer takes the employee as he is, that is, with his defects and pre-existing afflictions,” the state Supreme Court panel ruled that “in this case, the uncertainty is not whether (Mr. Fly) suffered an injury but whether the resulting disability flowed from the injury or from the pre-existing condition. All reasonable doubts as to the causation of an injury and whether the injury arose out of the employment should be resolved in favor of the employee.”

Officials with Mr. Bult’s could not immediately be reached for comment.