Evidence of Earning Capacity Loss Held Inadmissible and Apportionment of Preexisting Conditions Not Allowed
Joseph Grace v. Standard Furniture Manufacturing Company, Inc.:
On July 23, 2010, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released this opinion wherein it affirmed the trial court to the extent that evidence of earning loss capacity was held inadmissible. Specifically, it was proven at trial that the claimant was earning more than he was at the time of the injury. The claimant argued on appeal that the Return to Work Statute merely creates a rebuttable presumption that the plaintiff sustained no loss of earning capacity. The Court noted that the case law cited by the claimant all predated the 1992 Amendments and the Return to Work Statute now states in no uncertain terms that evidence of earning capacity loss shall not be considered. The Court also reversed the trial court’s decision to consider only the impairment rating allocated to the new injury. Evidence at trial revealed that the treating physician reduced the impairment rating so as not to include any impairment related to preexisting conditions. The trial judge adopted the doctor’s reduced impairment rating. The claimant argued that his preexisting conditions should not have been considered and the impairment rating should not have been reduced since he was able to work without restriction at the time of the accident. The Court agreed and reversed the trial court on that issue.