October 22, 2020
2020 MTWCC 4 WCC No. 2017-4143 MICHAEL NEISINGER Petitioner vs. NEW HAMPSHIRE INS. CO. Respondent/Insurer
FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND JUDGMENT
Summary: Petitioner suffered a compensable left-leg injury and had surgery to repair his torn quadriceps. Thereafter, Petitioner developed severe low-back pain, with pain radiating into his hips and legs. Petitioner contends that his industrial accident aggravated his preexisting lumbar spine condition. Petitioner relies on the causation opinions of physicians and chiropractors, who in large part based their opinions on Petitioner’s statements that he had an immediate onset of pain from his lumbar spine at the time of his industrial accident or shortly thereafter. Respondent denied liability for Petitioner’s lumbar spine condition, maintaining that his industrial accident did not aggravate his preexisting lumbar spine condition. Respondent relies on the causation opinion of an IME physician, who determined that, based on Petitioner’s medical records, his onset of symptoms was approximately ten months after his industrial accident.
Held: Respondent is not liable for Petitioner’s lumbar spine condition. Although Petitioner’s symptoms significantly worsened after his industrial accident, he did not meet his burden of proving that the industrial accident was the cause of the worsening. This Court gave more weight to the opinion of the IME physician because he was correct that the onset of Petitioner’s symptoms was approximately ten months after his industrial accident.