Fuller v. Edward D. Jones & Co.
The Harford Insurance Company
October 27, 2015
Post-Injury Earnings Multiple Injuries Medical Treatment Earning Capacity Work Search
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Ms. Fuller suffered two work related injuries in 2011 and 2012. She treated primarily with osteopathic manipulation, trying to maintain her active lifestyle. She filed Petitions for Payment of Medical Related Services and Petitions for Award for both injuries. Judge Jerome granted the petitions for the medical treatment for two finite periods and denied payment of incapacity benefits because Ms. Fuller failed to demonstrate a reduction of earnings. Ms. Fuller appealed seeking payment for additional treatments and incapacity benefits.
The panel affirmed payment for treatments during the finite period of time Judge Jerome identified, and no longer, because there was not competent evidence that the additional treatments were related to the work injuries. Judge Jerome properly determined which treatments were related to the injuries by reviewing medical records and the timeline of events. Her doctor’s M-1 form, which continued to indicate “work related” treatment was not persuasive and was not otherwise supported by the record.
The panel also affirmed Judge Jerome’s denial of incapacity benefits. Ms. Fuller argued that the judge erred by using an average figure when evaluating her post-injury earning capacity, and that the judge should have determined on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis whether her earnings exceeded or fell below the average.
The panel explained that although the Act does not prescribe a method for evaluating post-injury earning capacity, there is no authority requiring Ms. Fuller’s proposed method or precluding the method employed by Judge Jerome. The panel also noted that Ms. Fuller’s earnings vary widely from week to week, and that a portion of her weekly earnings bear no relation to her work activities for the corresponding week because they are simply fees related to clients’ investment of money. Finally, Ms. Fuller earned more in the years following her work injuries than she had in previous years. The decision is affirmed.