A Difficult Tennessee Workman's Compensation Case

December 6, 2008 by Jim Higgins

This week I tried a fairly unique worker's compensation case in Nashville. My client is a strong hard working lady who has been employed in a hospital all of her working life. After years of working in the hospital my client developed a severe latex allergy. In fact, she became so sensitive to latex that if she touched any object that another person had touched wearing a latex glove she would have a reaction. The reaction would cause her heart to race, her throat would swell and she would began having difficulty breathing. Immediate medical care would be required or should would go into anaphalyctic shock. Obviously, because of this allergy she was eventually forced to leave her job at the hospital. She is currently working in retail for a fraction of her prior wage.

Here is were it becomes difficult. In Tennessee, a workers comp award is based largely on the physical impairment given by your doctor. Impairments are based upon the AMA guidelines. There is no clean way to give my client an impairment under the guidelines. Does that mean she is less impaired than others? Of course not. However, because of the rigidity of the law it is difficult for the Court to give a fair award as in general all awards are based upon the doctors medial impairment rating. Cases such as this one demonstrate the need to give the Court more flexibility in their rulings. I have no doubt the Court will reach a fair ruling in this case but it will take a creative ruling. I will let you know the results of the ruling when it arrives.