The Importance of Scientific Evidence in Workers’ Compensation | Yanecko v. Waste Management

Submitted by New Jersey Workers Compensation Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

62-2-3403 Yanecko v. Waste Management, App. Div. (per curiam) (13 pp.)

Plaintiff’s employer, Waste Management, appeals the Judge of Worker’s Compensation’s order finding that Yanecko suffered a compensable occupational injury leaving him 25% permanently partially disabled due to “orthopedic residuals of a chronic lumbosacral sprain with findings of disc herniation and disc protrusion.”

Noting the limited nature of its review and the deference due the findings of a judge of compensation’s findings of fact, the panel affirms, finding that although plaintiff’s expert, who has treated thousands of individuals who suffer from diseases of the spine, could not cite to specific studies, he clearly stated that studies existed showing long-term repetitive stresses on the spine could result in disc herniation and protrusions, and that defendant’s own expert recognized that the scientific community accepted that repetitive stress could cause spine injuries, and, therefore, the JWC’s determination that Yanecko established a nexus between his spinal condition and the work he performed was based upon sufficient credible evidence in the record.

Again, the key to this appellate division workers compensation decision is:

(a) the limited nature of the appellate review,

(b) the deference due to the trial court’s finding regarding predictability and the admission by the defense expert that the injury complained of at testified to by the petitioner is one that the scientific community accepts as one which count be caused by repetitive stress.

THE KEY IS TO ASK THE DEFENSE EXPERT, IS THERE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE PLAINTIFF’S CONCLUSIONS!!!

Review the entire case here.

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