Ark. Court of Appeals Sides with Truck Driver in Workers’ Comp Case

February 9, 2007

A delivery truck driver injured on his route is entitled to disability benefits, the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled on Feb. 6, 2007, overturning a state workers’ compensation commission decision.

An opinion written by Judge Wendell Griffen questioned the commission’s decision to deny benefits to Bobby Hill, saying its members “arbitrarily disregarded evidence” in the case.

An administrative law judge earlier sided with Hill, awarding him temporary total disability benefits, reimbursement of medical costs and continuing treatment. The worker’s compensation commission overturned the judge’s ruling, saying Hill did not provide “corroborating evidence” of his injury.

While making a delivery for employer Watkins Motor Lines in 2004, Hill said a pallet of candy broke in half as it was lifted by a forklift from his truck. He said he tried to hold onto the broken pallet, but fell back from the truck, landing on his hands and knees on a warehouse’s concrete floor.

In the days after, his supervisor testified, Hill began wearing a splint on his wrist and had a large knot on his knee. Hill said he did not immediately fill out a worker’s compensation report because he did not want his boss to get in trouble for not reporting the accident.

In 2003 Hill suffered two falls and later underwent surgery, having a portion of his wrist bone removed, the opinion said. Doctors also told him he had a knee fracture that would likely require surgery.

Hill went back to work in April 2004 and filed a workers’ compensation form. His company’s insurer contested his claim.

In his opinion, Griffen notes records show a delivery on the date of Hill’s fall. The judge wrote that testimony from witnesses and medical reports also back up Hill’s claim.

“The commission seems to call into question (the) appellant’s credibility,” Griffen wrote in a footnote. “However, the commission based its findings on the erroneous conclusion that (the) appellant failed to provide corroborative evidence of his injuries.”

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