James P. Martinez suffered an admitted cumulative trauma injury to his neck, low back, knees, shoulders and hypertension, while he was employed as a correctional officer for the State of California, Department of Corrections.
The workers’ compensation administrative law judge found he sustained 79% permanent disability. This was based upon adding the disability from applicant’s hypertension to the combined rating of applicant’s orthopedic disabilities.
Defendant contests the WCJ’s rating of applicant’s permanent disability. Defendant contends that substantial medical evidence does not support adding applicant’s permanent disability, and that applicant has not rebutted the presumption favoring the use of the combined values chart (CVC) of the permanent disability rating schedule to rate multiple impairments.
The WCAB agreed, and reversed in the panel decision of Martinez v State of California Department of Corrections.
The DEU rating was a combined 66% orthopedic permanent disability and a 13% hypertension permanent disability, which added together equaled the 79% permanent disability awarded by the WCJ.
Defendant argues that the WCJ erred by instructing the DEU to use the addition method to combine applicant’s WPI ratings, rather than use the CVC, because just as the rating under the AMA Guides is presumed correct, the use of the CVC is presumed to provide the correct permanent disability rating where there are multiple disabilities.
The only reference in the record discussing the basis for the use of the additive method for rating applicant’s hypertension is in Dr. Hyman’s deposition testimony. In his testimony, Dr. Hyman stated that the reason the disability from applicant’s hypertension should be added to his orthopedic disability is due to the absence of overlap between the disabilities.
He explained that applicant’s hypertension does not impair his activities of daily living, and there is no overlap between his orthopedic and internal medicine impairments.
“Without more, this does not constitute substantial medical evidence to establish the primacy of the additive method over the use of the CVC, otherwise, the CVC would become irrelevant in any case involving injury to multiple body parts.”