In Ranger Contracting v. Morley, No. 2008-CA-0010307-WC (Ky. App. 2009) (designated to be published) the claimant had originally settled his claim stemming from a work-related hip injury and then subsequent to settlement moved to reopen the claim seeking compensation for medical treatment of low back pain which he attributed to the original injury. While medical testimony regarding the relationship of the low back pain to the original injury differed, the ALJ relied on claimant’s treating physician who opined the back pain was related to the original injury. The employer challenged the finding on various grounds arguing (1) that claimant was alleging a new injury not brought at the time of the original claim even though it was known to him deeming it barred under KRS 342.270; (2) that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations and (3) that the pain was not causally related to the original injury. In dismissing the employer’s arguments, the Court held that the back pain was compensable, noting that the pain did not constitute a new medical condition or injury and medical proof established it was causally related to the injury. In short, the Court deemed the back pain was a symptom or “natural consequence” of the hip injury even though the claimant did not injure his back in the original work accident.
Commentary: The court’s reasoning was sound, although some legal practitioners and physicians might take issue with the Court’s statement that pain in and of itself is not a medical condition but merely a symptom of a medical condition.