Expert Opinions in Workers Compensation Cases

An expert opinion by a physician is important to all workers’ compensation cases. Not only does a physician need to determine your permanent disability, he or she must establish causation.

The recent case of Malam v. State of Missouri, Department of Corrections highlights the importance of the doctor’s opinion.

In a workers’ compensation case, medical causation, which is not within common knowledge or experience, must be established by medical evidence showing the relationship between the complained of condition and the asserted cause.

For example, if a worker loses a finger on a dangerous machine, you don’t need an expert opinion on causation-cause and condition are obvious.

In many workers’ compensation cases, cause and condition are not clear cut. This is especially true when there are pre-existing conditions.

I always hire an experienced physician to give an opinion in workers’ compensation cases.

In the Malam case, Mr. Malam, a correctional officer, was injured when he did a “takedown” of an uncooperative inmate. He then experienced a hypertensive crisis.

The employer’s doctor said it was all related to Mr. Malam’s pre-existing medical conditions. The employee’s doctor said the “takedown” was the prevailing, precipitating factor. Since 2005, the injury must be the prevailing factor in causing the medical condition in workers’ compensation cases. The insertion of the word “precipitating” lead the lower court to find the doctor’s opinion was ambiguous. The Supreme Court found the doctor’s opinion was sufficient to allow for compensation.

The appeal and the months of wrangling could have been avoided by having the doctor clarify what he meant.

If you have a workers’ compensation cause and need assistance please call my office, Dean Law Office LLC, 816-753-3100.

The choice of an attorney is an important decision and should not be based on advertising alone.

FIRST AWARDS UNDER WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ENHANCED BENEFITS

In 2013, Missouri passed a law providing for enhanced benefits for certain occupational diseases; such diseases are due to exposure at work.
In April, 2016 the first award was entered by a judge under this new law.
In the first case, the award was for mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The deceased in the case, had been a flooring installer. During many years on the job, he had been exposed to asbestos when scraping old floor tiles containing asbestos. The company where the employee was last exposed to the asbestos was responsible for the on-the-job exposure and payment of damages.
Any employee who has certain diseases due to exposure at work or the family members of deceased employees should consider filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with one of the occupational diseases covered under the enhanced benefit law, it is important to contact an attorney and get the claim on file.
There is a lot of investigation needed in these cases. Medical records and job records must be obtained and the appropriate medical experts need to be hired.
The award in these cases can be substantial.
If you or a family member have been diagnosed with one of the covered occupational diseases, please contact my office.
Dean Law Office at 816-753-3100.
Asbestosis, berylliosis, silicosis, acute myelogenous leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, manganism, silicotuberculosis, bronchiolitis obliterans, coal worker’s pneumoconiosis are all diseases covered under the Missouri enhanced benefit law.

“The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.”

Is Probate Necessary to Transfer Property at Death?

Probate is necessary unless the decedent (the deceased person) did not have any property that needs to be probated. If the decedent put property in a trust, set up joint accounts with right of survivorship, created pay-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designations or named beneficiaries on life insurance or retirement accounts, there is no need for probate. Probate is only necessary when there is property solely in the decedent’s name without using one of the methods mentioned to avoid probate. If you have probate questions, call Margaret Dean at 816-753-3100.