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A divisive Florida appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a workers compensation insurer and employer must pay for the continuing care of a dental assistant who was injured while preventing a patient from falling in 2017 — a worker who had a previous medical condition related to a car accident.
The employer and insurer initially accepted compensability of Ana Rivera's injuries to the low back and neck, but later denied claims for cervical injections and physical therapy when hermedical history revealed that she had a prior motor vehicle accident and previous neck symptoms, according to documents in Premier Community Healthcare Group, AmTrust North America of Florida and Associated Industries Insurance Co. v. Ana Rivera, filed in the District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District, in Tallahassee.
An orthopedic surgeon authorized to treat the workplace injuries, testified that Ms. Rivera “never mentioned any neck or cervical complaints to him” and another orthopedic surgeon and the insurer’s independent medical examiner, testified that Ms. Rivera “has objective findings of preexisting degenerative disc disease.”
“Ultimately, both doctors opined that the workplace injury is not the major contributing cause of Claimant's current need for medical treatment of the cervical spine,” documents state.
The state’s Judge of Compensation Claims ordered the insurer and employer to cover her care, assessing that evidence showed the second injury to her neck and back was a major contributing cause for her need for subsequent care. The appeals court affirmed this ruling, with one of three dissenting over the lack of evidence, applying the doctor’s testimonies as proof and declaring Ms. Rivera’s record lacks “substantial evidence” to the contrary.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed into law a bill that will offer benefits to firefighters upon the diagnosis of 21 difference cancers.