Aggravation of Preexisting Condition

The case of Buttrey v. Altria Group Inc., (Tenn. W.C. Panel 4/24/2012), is a good example of an important rule of law in Tennessee Workers’ Compensation cases.  In Buttrey, the employee injured her neck while working in 2001. She treated conservatively and didn’t miss any work.  In 2005, she again experienced neck pain with radiculopathy, but didn’t miss any work.  In April of 2009, the employee was performing lifting activities at work and began to experience excruciating neck pain.  An MRI revealed degenerative changes in the neck and a surgery was performed in August of 2009.  The treating doctor testified that the employee had pre-existing degenerative disc disease that was exacerbated by her work activities in April of 2009.  The employer hired a doctor who testified that there was no evidence of a work related injury or exacerbation.  The Court ruled in favor of the employee (plaintiff), noting that lay testimony in conjunction with medical evidence was sufficient to establish the the employee’s work activities advanced the severity of her pre-existing degenerative disc disease in April 2009.

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