Workers Comp (3x Multiplier): ADAMS V. NHC HEALTHCARE (SC 8/24/2006)

WORKERS COMP:  Triple Multiplier

DATE RENDERED  8/24/2006

After an injury incurred while lifting a patient, the claimant returned to work performing modified duty as a nurse’s aide, earning the same average weekly wage as prior to his injury. However, he later quit claiming that the back injury caused too great a degree of pain to continue working. The ALJ determined that the claimant could perform the duties of his job and make the same average weekly wage, and awarded him a single-multiplier, enhanced by the double-multiplier after the period when he ceased working. The claimant appealed, arguing that his restrictions prevented him from performing the nurse’s aide job, which involved lifting patients. This case sounds like the ALJ decided that the claimant could perform other work earning the same amount of money and therefore applied Fawbush v. Gwinn to deny the triple multiplier. In that case the Supreme Court would have nullified the words of the statute by applying its own case law. However, this case could be interpreted as simply saying that the ALJ believed the claimant had the physical capacity to perform the job he was performing at the time of his injury, because the employer continued to employ him in the same position after his injury, with modifications.

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