Employer Has Continuing Duty to Investigate and Assess Claimant's Disability Status and May Not Rely Solely on Old Medical Records

A workers’ compensation claimant was properly awarded a penalty and attorneys’ fees after the employer failed to reinstate benefits in reliance on old medical records rather than continuing to assess the claimant’s deteriorating condition and considering the evolving opinions of the employee’s physicians. The employee’s doctors originally thought the employee would be able to return to work, but after her condition continued to decline and additional symptoms developed the physicians changed their opinions, based on objective medical findings of disc protrusion and nerve root impingement, to “unable to work due to total disability.” The employer blindly relied on the old medical records and failed to reinstate the claimant's benefits, even though the three physicians had opined the claimant was unable to return to work. See: Guffey v. Acadiana Computer Systems, Inc., 2011 WL 6183467 (La.App. 3 Cir. Dec 12, 2011) (not designated for publication).