A blog by a retired Colorado attorney on legal news, views and tips on Colorado Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability. Written from the point of view of the injured or disabled worker.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Rodriguez Court of Appeals case on falls
Just a few days ago the Colorado Court of Appeals decided the Rodriguez workers comp case. In this case the claimant
was injured in a fall descending the stairs to her office. The employer initially admitted liability for disability but then sought to withdraw its admission of liability arguing the injuries did not arise out of the employment. A CT scan found unruptured brain aneurysms but it was determined the fall did not come from the aneurysms but was unexplained. The judge found the claim to be not compensable because the fall was unexplained. The hearing judge recognized that the employer bore the burden in proving non-compensability and it did so when the fall was determined to be unexplained. Claimant appealed and it was affirmed by the panel leading to the Court of Appeals decision when the claimant appealed again to a higher court. The court said the burden being on the employer the fact it was unexplained was a failure of proof. Essentially the burden of proof was on the employer since they had admitted liability and that burden requires more then saying the fall was unexplained. All claimants should be aware that unexplained falls are usually not compensable because normally the burden is on the claimant to show the injury was work related. However here the employer had the burden when it admitted liability. Clearly it appears the court is saying the burden you have is a real one and there must be evidence to carry that burden. A lack of explanation is not good enough. To me falling on stairs is usually work related but it is important to have an explanation of what happened. You might return to the scene of any fall if you are worried. Perhaps the traction is a problem or the angle or the step itself may be a problem. Fortunately in this case the claimant was lucky not to have it contested where the burden would be hers to prove. In many cases the other side disputes or contests the claim. If at all possible a claimant should have an attorney to handle such contested claims because they are often tough cases to win. UPDATE: This case went to the Colorado Supreme Court and while affirming the decision the court went further so see my post of February 4, 2014.
"...this is the cause of my life, new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege." Ted Kennedy Aug 26, 2008 (Update: June 28, 2012 the US Supreme Court upholds Obamacare)
Do We Pass the Test?
"It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
I've been living in beautiful Colorado and practicing law for over 35 years. It's been a great place to raise a family. Originally from New York I settled here, married here and raised two daughters, Jenny and Mary. I practiced near downtown Colorado Springs but now consider myself "retired" so I am not taking any more legal matters, clients or cases but I appreciate being able to help as many clients as I could for so many years. Now I especially enjoy my retirement time with family including 4 special ones...a grandson, Max, twin granddaughters, Penny and Cici and last but not least grandson Eliot. You can contact me at my email address which is email@example.com.
In the past we offered free consultations in cases but we are not taking any more legal matters or cases as retirement calls. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We've been protecting injured workers for many years and truly went the distance for many people. We made a difference for most of them and stood up for right not might. If you need an attorney I suggest you find someone where you live who offers free consultations. Also I urge you to discuss your case with an attorney if at all possible. This field is technical and complex. I would even call it tricky so seek advice from an attorney. If that is not possible call the Colorado Division of Workers Compensation customer service section for helpful information.
The information in this blog is intended to represent my personal views and opinions. It is not intended to be specific or personal legal advice which should only be obtained by a consultation with an experienced attorney. All this blog provides is general information I consider important to me. It may be of interest to others but for any advice or advisory statements consult with an attorney not a blog.
Special Personal News on Cici, our grandaughter (September 2011)
Nearly 3 years ago our grandaughter Cici had a serious medical problem. Her survival was at risk and she was deprived of oxygen because of a tragic choking/swallowing problem. It is known as an anoxic brain injury. The recovery has been challenging and slow but some progress has been made. We are thankful to be part of her recovery. I remain truly grateful for the prayers and touching support provided by so many people to my daughter and the family. We are actively committed to Cici's recovery and to her loved one's for as long as it takes. You can follow this difficult but amazing journey on my daughter's and husband Matt's Blog. Where there is life there is hope. We've had tough times but we have also seen courage and love in action for her and also for others. For examples look below.