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Ruling that threw out injured trucker’s comp award reversed


The North Carolina Supreme Court has reversed a lower appeals court decision that threw out a workers compensation award for an injured tractor-trailer driver.

The high court on Friday found the North Carolina Court of Appeals wrongly overturned an Industrial Commission decision finding Donna Sprouse’s spinal injuries compensable following a September 2016 accident.  

Ms. Sprouse was hurt when a tire that blew out on her tractor-trailer caused the vehicle to crash. Her husband was riding in the vehicle with her at the time of the accident. Both were employed by Mary B. Turner Trucking Co.

Ms. Sprouse reported her husband’s injury but didn’t report her injuries until later. The employer later challenged the comp award, arguing Ms. Sprouse failed to prove her injuries were related to the workplace accident, since she had underlying conditions.  

The lower appeals court agreed, overturning the comp award as improper.

The Supreme Court ruled the appeals court was wrong, and that while a claimant’s medical history can be referenced in comp cases, it does not prove whether a claimant’s particular injury was causally related to a workplace accident.

The Supreme Court remanded the matter to the Court of Appeals with an instruction to reinstate the comp award.