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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Aug 15, 2012

Court: TN Workers Comp Appeals

Attorneys 1:

T. Joseph Lynch and Jesse D. Nelson, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Starnet Insurance Company.

Attorneys 2:

James H. Hickman III, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Larry A. Renfro.

Judge(s): PUCKETT

In this workers’ compensation case, the employee, a truck driver, sustained a compensable back injury. After having surgery, he returned to his pre-injury job for a year and was able to drive with the aid of narcotic medications prescribed to treat his back pain. He subsequently left his employment after results of an annual U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) medical examination determined that his use of the narcotics prohibited him from driving. The trial court found that the employee did not have a meaningful return to work and awarded benefits in excess of one and one-half times the anatomical impairment rating. The employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier has appealed, asserting that the employee’s loss of employment was unrelated to his work injury and that the award should have been limited to one and one-half times the impairment. We affirm the judgment.