There are two ways to successfully establish a workers’ compensation claim in Nevada. One is to have an injury by accident arising out of the course and scope of your employment, and the other way is to have what is considered to be an occupational disease. The burden of proof is on an injured worker to show that it is more probable than not that he had a work-related accident causing an injury, or to show a causal connection between work activity and an illness. This means that if you go to your employer to report a work injury and you cannot specifically identify the date, time, place and cause of your injury, you can expect your claim to be denied. You cannot assume that your injury happened at work because you were fine when you left home that morning, for example, and you felt pain or had an injury when you left work at the end of the day.
There are many cases from the Nevada Supreme Court interpreting what is “an injury by accident” under Nevada workers’ compensation law. The precise facts of each case, and your particular circumstances, are crucial in determining the likelihood that your claim will be accepted. That said, in general, if you are unable to pinpoint how and when you were injured at work, it is not likely that the doctor who is completing your C-4 claim form will check the box that he can directly connect your injury as job related. Even if the doctor checks the right box at the bottom of the claim form, the insurer and/or employer will probably question the claim if you don’t write a specific date and time for your injury. Remember that work injuries must be reported in writing to the employer within 7 days, and a claim form must be completed by a doctor within 90 days.
Many older employees want to know whether they can file a claim for worsening back complaints after a long working life that has had a lot of wear and tear on their backs. There is no question that if you do heavy lifting or bending or other physically strenuous work activity for over twenty years, you can expect to find degenerative changes in your spine- some due to the aging process and others due to over-exertion at work. While you may get reporting from your doctor that relates your current back complaints to hard work activity over a period of time, it is still highly unlikely that you will be successful in establishing a worker’s compensation claim in Nevada due to our legal definitions of “injury” and “accident” and occupational disease. See NRS 616A.030, NRS 616A.265 and NRS 617.440.
© 2/2/11 Virginia L. Hunt, Esq.