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Workers comp denied to man who worked other jobs after injury

Posted On: Oct. 1, 2020 11:17 AM CST

workers comp

A man who took several full-duty positions at other companies following his workplace back injury is not entitled to workers compensation, an appellate court ruled Wednesday.

In Potter v. Kelly Services Inc., the Arkansas Court of Appeals, Division II unanimously affirmed a decision by the Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission denying total temporary disability to the worker.

Daniel Potter worked for temporary staffing company Kelly Services when he was injured while unloading trucks at an Ashley Furniture warehouse. He said he experienced back pain that extended down the side of his right leg after he pulled down a heavy dresser without assistance.

He reported the injury to his supervisor and was diagnosed with muscle spasms and a back contusion by the workers compensation physician, who placed Mr. Potter on seven days of restricted duty work. The physician also said that he provided Mr. Potter with range-of-motion and back exercises to perform at home and set a follow-up visit, though Mr. Potter denied that he was given exercises or notified of the second visit.

Kelly Services initially accepted Mr. Potter’s back injury as compensable, but later denied his claim after learning that he had not received treatment for a period of eight months. The company and Mr. Potter also disagreed on whether he was offered modified-duty work.

Kelly Services argued before an administrative law judge that it attempted to contact Mr. Potter multiple times to offer him modified-duty work within his restrictions, but said he did not contact the company and eventually abandoned his position and accepted a job elsewhere.

He sought total temporary disability payments related to his back injury, but the administrative law judge denied his request, finding that he was not credible since he began working for other companies shortly after his accident and did not complain of back pain at medical appointments — despite having many for different ailments — for an eight-month period. The commission affirmed the decision and Mr. Potter appealed.

The appellate court upheld the decision. Although Mr. Potter argued that the workers comp physician was “rude and hateful,” which is why he did not return to him, and that his back pain gradually got worse, the court noted that Mr. Potter accepted several full-duty jobs with no restrictions not long after his injury and that in medical records he denied any acute injuries and made no mention of his workplace accident, but rather said his symptoms were related to manual labor he was performing at one of the positions he held with another company in the months after his accident.