Las Vegas, NV (WorkersCompensation.com) – When a worker turns up at a doctor with pain from an alleged workplace injury that happened 10 days earlier, how likely is it that the injury happened on the job?
A Nevada court had to tackle that question – and determine who was credible – when a police officer allegedly experienced a blow from his own baton while on the clock.
A Las Vegas police offer reported that while running with his gun belt on a during training session, his holstered baton spun and dug into his left thigh. Ten days after the incident, the officer went to a quick care clinic and was diagnosed with a contusion.
Another doctor determined that the officer had a nerve injury and noted “trauma-related” pain that needed treatment.
The officer filed a workers’ compensation claim, which was denied. On appeal, the hearing officer affirmed the claim denial. According to the hearing officer, testimony from witnesses contradicted the officer’s version of events because other officers reported that the officer didn’t appear to be injured during the training.
Additionally, the hearing officer found that evidence established that the force needed to rotate the holstered baton did not occur as alleged nor was the baton long enough to reach the point of the officer’s injury.
The officer attempted to take the case to court, but the trial court found that the hearing officer committed no error. Thus, the police officer appealed to the next level in court, arguing that the injury occurred during the training and that the hearing officer wrongly rejected his claim.
In Nevada, as in other states, an injured employee seeking workers’ compensation benefits must show that the alleged injury was related to some risk involved within the scope of employment.
Did the officer show his injury arose out of his employment?
- Yes. The officer was required to wear the baton, and the doctors agreed that it was what caused the contusion.
- No. Credible testimony from the other officers refuted the officer’s description of how he experienced the injury.
If you chose B, you were on the same page as the court in Haynes v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, No. 80384-COA (Nev. Ct. App. 11/25/20), which agreed with the hearing officer’s decision in the police department’s favor. According to the court, the medical evidence wasn’t strong enough to tie the injury to the alleged baton incident.
Instead, given the other officers’ details as well as additional evidence, the court explained that the hearing officer didn’t err in determining that the baton could not have spun or made contact with the officer in the alleged location on his thigh.
“The evidence … actually showed that the injury probably did not arise from employment,” the court wrote. “[The officer] did not meet his burden to prove that the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment.”
As a result, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s ruling against the officer.
This feature does not provide legal advice.