Claimant filed a Petition for Additional Compensation Due alleging he sustained permanent impairment to the cervical spine at 20% and to the right upper extremity at 11% as a result of a September 6, 2016, work incident. Claimant’s permanent impairment rating was supported by the medical opinion of Dr. Stephen Rodgers. The Employer defended against this Petition with the medical expert opinion of Dr. Lawrence Piccioni, who provided ratings of 3% to the neck and 1% to the right shoulder, but only on the basis of giving the Claimant the benefit of the doubt.
At the time of the accident, Claimant was employed as a police officer for the Wilmington Police Department; he reportedly injured his right shoulder and neck when he attempted to restrain a man in the middle of an intersection. While the Employer had accepted limited, nonspecific injuries, it disputed the permanent impairment claims.
Following a Hearing before the Board, Claimant’s Petition was denied outright, as the Board found the Claimant failed to meet his burden of proof to establish any permanent impairment related to the incident. The Board noted that Dr. Rodgers was unaware of other health conditions the Claimant had, which were not attributed to the work incident.
The Board also questioned the mechanism of injury, finding the Claimant’s descriptions did not match the body camera footage of the incident. The Board found there was nothing on the body camera footage which could account for a serious permanent injury such as a herniated disc or torn ligaments in the shoulder. The Board then went on to note they did not find the Claimant credible, finding the Claimant’s testimony inconsistent with other evidence presented and that he was inconsistent with what he told medical providers and Dr. Piccioni at the Defense Medical Examination. Claimant was also not forthcoming about the effect of his unrelated conditions on his ability to return to work as a police officer.
Therefore, even though Dr. Piccioni had provided specific permanent impairment ratings, which he related to the accident, the Board declined to give the Claimant the benefit of the doubt. As such, the Board denied the Claimant’s Petition and awarded him no permanent impairment benefits.
Should you have any questions regarding this Decision, please contact Nicholas E. Bittner, or any other attorney in our Workers’ Compensation Department.
James Wyatt v. City of Wilmington, IAB Hrg. No. 1447139 (May 05, 2022).