As a practitioner before the NY Workers Compensation Board it is often to my consternation that I have a perfectly good case or claim from a legal persepective and the powers that be at the WCB make a ruling that seems to bend and twist the legal standards and guidelines, often to the detriment of my client, or even to my advesarys detriment when they have the better (did I say that!) arguement.
Well, in a short but well reasoned decision, the Appellate Division, Third Department (the only Appeals Court that can hear Workers Compensation claims in NY) reversed the WCB (that is overtunred the WCB ruling) and sent the case back to the WCB to be properly reviewed.
The basis of the reversal was pretty simple (and a bit embarrassing). The WCB asserted the correct legal standard – the WCB "has the right to determine conflicting medical evidence if supported by substantial evidence". But the Court went on to note that the WCB, in Carlucci v. Omnibus the WCB
1) Relied on an inaccurate legal standard
2) Based its decision on incorrect factual assertions
3) Based its decision on a misreading of the record
In short, the WCB relied on the WCB Medical Guidelines (1996) for back injuries, but this was NOT a back injury.
Result, reveresed and sent back to the Board.
LESSON — Really, really READ your decisions.
I would add one additional step – check the actual cases the WCB sites in its decisions, they are often wrong!