State ex rel. DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Industrial Comm. of Ohio, et al., No. 2007-2020 (Ohio 03/24/09).
The Ohio Supreme Court held that an employer cannot terminate temporary total disability benefits when an employee has not reached maximum medical improvement.
What it means:
Under Ohio law, an employee's temporary total disability benefits will not be automatically terminated upon a doctor's declaration that she is permanently unable to return to her former position, when she has not reached MMI.
The claimant was receiving TTD benefits but had not yet reached MMI. The claimant's attending physician stated that she would never return to her former position. Her employer argued that because she was permanently unable to return to the former position, her TTD benefits should be terminated.
The employer argued that if an employee's condition is permanent or the employee is permanently unable to return to her position, then TTD benefits should be terminated. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected this argument, stating that a claimant's permanent inability to return to her former position does not necessarily mean the claimant's medical condition will not improve.
The Supreme Court pointed out that so long as the claimant's condition has not stabilized from a medical point of view, and further medical improvement can be expected, TTD benefits are payable. The court noted that the definition of permanency refers to improvement of the condition, not the ability to return to work.
The court stated that its rationale in Vulcan Materials Co. v. Indus. Comm. was binding on its decision. In Vulcan, the court found that a decision on the permanency of a disability "relates solely to the perceived longevity of the condition at issue. It has absolutely no bearing upon the claimant's ability to perform the tasks involved in his former position."
May 4, 2009
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