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Firefighter’s shoulder re-injury during vacation compensable

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A Virginia appellate court has ruled against Fairfax County in an appeal of a workers compensation award for an injured firefighter.

The Court of Appeals of Virginia on Tuesday said the awarding of temporary total disability benefits to firefighter and EMT Scott Halisky following a re-aggravation of a prior work-related injury was proper, turning aside a Fairfax County argument that the additional benefits were unwarranted because the subsequent injury occurred while Mr. Halisky was vacationing.

Mr. Halisky injured his shoulder in 2019 while lifting a stretcher from an ambulance. The county accepted his injury as compensable.

In November 2020, Mr. Halisky filed an additional claim for temporary total disability benefits, asserting that a fall he sustained while on vacation in Florida was a “compensable consequence” of his original work-related injury.

The county challenged the additional benefits, arguing the Florida fall wasn’t work-related and that Mr. Halisky’s second injury was partially due to his own intentional conduct.

The appeals court ruled that merely being on vacation, when he was cleared to do so medically, was not an intentional act by Mr. Halisky that would justify denying temporary total disability payments.

The court called the county’s arguments “misguided,” ruling it failed to offer evidence to support its contention that Mr. Halisky’s vacationing was intentional conduct that led to the subsequent re-injury of his shoulder.