In Alabama, Absent Supporting Medical Evidence, “Substantial Evidence” is Necessary to Prove Causation
On November 15, 2019, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released its opinion inEx parte Sea Coast Disposal, Inc., in response to a Petition for Writ of Mandamus. The employer argued there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s determination that the employee’s neck and back claims were compensable. Regarding the neck, the Court of Appeals reviewed the evidence, consisting of medical records, medical expert testimony, and the testimony of both plaintiff and his father-in-law, regarding the onset of symptoms, including swelling in the plaintiff’s neck. The Court of Appeals determined that there was “substantial evidence” supporting the trial court’s finding of compensability. The Court of Appeals then reviewed the evidence regarding the low back, including an almost one-year delay in the onset of symptoms, infrequent complaints, and no supporting causation opinion from a medical expert. The Court of Appeals held that there was not “substantial evidence” for the trial court to have reasonably inferred that the low back injury was compensable. The Petition for Writ of Mandamus was granted in part and denied in part.
About the Author
This blog submission was prepared by Karen Cleveland, an attorney with Fish Nelson & Holden, LLC, a law firm dedicated to representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators in all matters related to workers’ compensation. Fish Nelson & Holden is a member of the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. If you have any questions about this submission or Alabama workers’ compensation in general, please contact Cleveland by e-mailing her at email@example.com or by calling her directly at 205-332-1599.