Fear of Paralysis

by Hayden M. Beach (June 21, 2018)

When I was growing up, I loved to read books, especially horror novels. As any good horror reader knows, Stephen King is one of the best. The novel I enjoyed the most as a teenager was Misery. The story focuses on a writer who sustains severe injuries due to a motor vehicle accident and the writer is “saved” by a crazy fan.

I always found it terrifying the writer did not have the ability to get out of the situation, in part due to him being “practically totally paralyzed”. Recently, the noteworthy panel decision Burr v. The Best Demolition & Recycling Co., Inc., 2018 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS was released which brought me right back to the fear I felt when reading Misery.

Essentially, the applicant underwent numerous lumbar spine surgeries. Major complications resulted in applicant being wheelchair bound due to his inability to use his lower extremities. The applicant attorney argued applicant was presumed totally disabled per Labor Code Section 4662(a)(3), which states in part that one shall be conclusively presumed to be total in character if the injury results in finding of “practically total paralysis.” As a surprise to many, the court concluded the applicant did not meet the threshold because he was not a quadriplegic or even close to being a quadriplegic.