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Matthew Bergmann
Matthew Bergmann
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Kansas Court of Appeals Rules Against Injured Worker

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The Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled against an injured employee who was previously awarded a work disability.

In Graham v. Dokter Trucking Group, the Court of Appeals reveiwed the burden of proof required to prove work disablity under the Kansas Workers Compensation Act. The injured worker had been an over-the-road truck driver when he fell from a trailer and injured himself. Following the injury, the worker was in too much pain to return to his normal job, so his employer provided an accommodated position paying 40% more than his prior position.

Following extensive medical treatment the injured worker’s physician returned him to work without restrictions, yet the worker self-restricted the number of hours he would work each week because of the pain he was experiencing. The Appeals Board for the Kansas Division of Workers Compensation found that the self-imposed restrictions by the worker were sufficient to meet the wage loss prong of a claim for work disablity.

The Court of Appeals reversed this finding and held that since the injured worker could not find a physician to place work restrictions upon him, then he could not recover a work disability. Additionally, the court noted that the record, other than the claimant’s own reports of pain, did not provide any reason as to why the claimant could not work regular hours. With regard to the wage loss requirement for a work disablity, the Court of Appeals also found that record did not support the worker’s argument that he was unable to earn 90% of his pre-injury wage.

It is undetermined at this time whether the case will be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.