Motel 6 housekeeper receives workers' compensation

California panel corrects ‘computational error' in permanent disability award

Motel 6 housekeeper receives workers' compensation

A panel of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board of California recently decided to assess permanent disability at 78% instead of 80%, as awarded by the workers’ compensation administrative law judge on account of a computational error.

In the case of Burton vs. Motel 6; Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, a workers’ compensation administrative law judge found that the applicant, while employed as a housekeeper, sustained industrial injury to her lumbar spine, thoracic spine, left wrist, left hand, and gastrointestinal system, as well as injuries in the forms of xerostomia and opioid-induced endocrinopathy.

These industrial injuries caused permanent disability of 80%, the judge said.

Read more: Workers' compensation tribunal tackles alleged continuous trauma for industrial injuries

The applicant asked for reconsideration. She made the following arguments:

  • The workers’ compensation administrative law judge committed errors in the permanent disability finding;
  • The applicant’s lumbar spine permanent disability should have incorporated the qualified medical evaluator chiropractor’s findings about range of motion impairment;
  • Her left wrist impairment should have considered the chiropractor’s findings on lifting impairment;
  • Her dental and internal permanent disability should be added to the orthopaedic permanent disability instead of being combined using the combined values chart;
  • The applicant’s life pension rate was incorrectly calculated;
  • The judge’s decision should include an express finding deferring the issue of penalties.

The panel of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board of California reconsidered the matter. Due to a computational error, it amended the judge’s decision by finding that the applicant’s industrial injuries caused permanent disability of 78% instead of 80%.

The panel agreed with the applicant’s argument that the judge should have utilized the range of motion impairment rating for the lumbar spine and should have included the loss of lifting capacity rating for left wrist impairment. The panel assessed lumbar spine permanent disability at 41 percent, rather than the judge’s rating of 35 percent, and assessed left wrist permanent disability at 15 percent.

However, the panel upheld the judge’s decision to combine the orthopaedic permanent disability and the internal medicine and dental permanent disabilities by utilizing the combined values chart. The panel also affirmed the judge’s conclusion that attorney’s fees should be based on the present value of the applicant’s permanent disability and life pension awards.

Lastly, the panel amended the judge’s decision to reflect that the issue of penalties was expressly deferred and to set the applicant’s weekly life pension rate at $64.50, subject to adjustment under section 4659(c) of California’s Labor Code.

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