Our firm recently represented an employee who was hired by a waste management company. During the initial consultation, the client disclosed that he had a previous right shoulder injury but his employer never asked specific questions regarding the nature of his work restrictions. A few months into the new job, he injured his left shoulder while throwing garbage. The employer denied the claim arguing the injured employee did not fully disclose the restrictions of the right shoulder, and that if he had, he never would have been hired. This workers’ comp defense is known as “the Jewison defense.”
THE EMPLOYER DENIED BENEFITS BASED ON THE EMPLOYEE’S ALLEGED FAILURE TO DISCLOSE A PRIOR INJURY.
The case in which the Jewison defense arose is Jewison v. Frerichs Construction. Our client’s employer further argued that the proximate cause of the new injury stemmed from the employee’s failure to disclose the prior right shoulder injury which caused the employee to compensate by using his left shoulder more than usual.
The Jewison defense allows an employer to argue a defense to a work comp claim based on fraud or misrepresentation by the injured employee. The Jewison court specifically articulated the following rule:
We adopt the rule that a false representation as to physical condition or health made by an employee in procuring employment will preclude the awarding of workers’ compensation benefits for an otherwise compensable injury if it is shown that: 1) the employee knowingly and willfully made a false representation as to his physical condition; 2) the employer substantially and justifiably relied on the false representation in the hiring of the employee; and 3) a causal connection existed between the false representation and the injury. The burden is on the employer to prove each of the elements.
WE WERE UNABLE TO WORK OUT A SETTLEMENT WITH THE WORK COMP CLIENT’S EMPLOYER AND THE CASE PROCEEDED TO TRIAL.
After listening to extensive testimony, the Minnesota work comp judge held that the employer failed to prove that the employee knowingly and willfully made a false representation as to his physical condition. We had evidence that our client acknowledged his prior injury on his employment application. Based on this, the judge determined that our client did not intend to deceive his abilities to perform the required job duties. The judge further found that the employee believed he could perform the job.
HIRE EAGAN’S BEST WORKERS COMPENSATION LAWYERS
Contact us today if you or someone you know has been denied Minnesota work comp benefits based on an employer’s allegation that there was a failure to disclose a previous injury. Our Eagan work comp attorneys will review your case and determine the strength of the employer’s Jewison defense. We will take the employer and the insurance company to trial if we believe the employer does not meet the requirements fo the Jewison defense.