The Employee suffered an admitted Gillette injury to her low back culminating in November of 1987. A laminotomy and discectomy at the L3-4 level was performed a month later. The Employee’s immediate post-surgery recovery went well. She had an functional capacity evaluation which recommended permanent light duty restrictions. An IME was performed on behalf of the Employer and Insurer and placed her at maximum medical improvement, 9% PPD was paid.
The Employee filed a Claim Petition seeking rehabilitation benefits as well as temporary indemnity benefits, and in the alternative permanent total disability benefits. The parties executed a Stipulation for Settlement closing out all benefits except medicals.
Subsequent to the stipulation, the Employee had continuing problems with her low back. In 1992 she had new herniation and impingement at L2-3. A decompression and discectomy was performed at that level in 1997. Unfortunately, her problems continued. By 2007 she had significant lumbar pathology from L2-S1.
The parties acquired dueling IMEs which disagreed whether the Employee’s original 1987 injury and subsequent surgeries were substantial contributing causes to the employee’s current condition.
Under pre-1992 law, controlling in this case, an Employee must show “good cause” which constitutes a change in diagnosis and the employee’s ability to work, additional PPD, more costly medical treatment than anticipated and a causal relationship.
The WCCA’s found that Employee’s original 1987 injury was a substantial contributing factor in her subsequent treatment and disability. This finding, in turn, established the remaining elements of PPD, diagnosis and medical cost. The Award on Stipulation was vacated.