Illinois appeals court partially sides with injured Dollar General worker

An Illinois appeals court has partially reversed a Workers’ Compensation Commission ruling overturning an arbitrator’s issuance of temporary total disability benefits to a retail worker injured during a December 2018 workplace accident.

In McGaha v. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, the Fifth District Appellate Court of Illinois on Tuesday partially overturned a May Wayne County Circuit Court decision siding with the Worker’s Compensation Commission that Dollar General Corp. employee Nathaniel McGaha failed to prove causation between his injuries and the store incident.

Mr. McGaha filed for workers comp in June 2019 after injuring his elbow while unloading merchandise.

In March 2020, an arbitrator determined Mr. McGaha’s injuries stemmed from his workplace accident, awarding him medical expenses, medical treatment and temporary total disability benefits, but denying his request for attorney fees.

On review, the Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed the awarding of temporary total disability benefits and medical treatment because Mr. McGaha failed to prove his carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes were causally connected to the work accident.

Mr. McGaha fell into a frozen lake while trying to rescue his dog in February 2019, two months after the work accident, and while he initially denied sustaining additional arm injuries, the employer questioned the connection between any nerve issues and the frozen lake incident.

The commission modified the arbitrator’s award of medical expenses because of the existence of the frozen lake incident.

The appeals court, however, said evidence weighed in Mr. McGaha’s favor, since, despite the commission’s determination, he was not required to present a medical opinion proving that his treatment was connected to the workplace accident and not the frozen lake incident.

The appeals court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of penalties and legal fees.

This article was first published in Business Insurance.

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