Case name: Manucy v. Joe Manucy Racing, No. WCA 09-1246 (La. Ct. App. 04/07/10).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal overturned a workers' compensation judge's award of benefits. The injured worker suffered a workplace injury that clearly developed immediately even though he continued working. Because the injury was immediately apparent, the worker's failure to file a claim within one year made it untimely.
What it means: The Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act gives workers one year after the date of injury to file a claim for benefits if the injury develops immediately. The law allows two years for injuries that do not develop immediately. Where a worker is diagnosed with a torn knee ligament right after a workplace accident, his injury is an immediately developing one. The fact that he continued to work for several months after the accident did not extend the limitations period to two years.
Summary: A worker at a horse training business tore a knee ligament after a horse ran over him. He continued working for another seven months after the injury. He filed for benefits 10 months later, or approximately one and one-half years after the injury. A workers' compensation judge granted the worker indemnity benefits, finding that the injury did not develop into a disability until the worker stopped working seven months after the accident. The Court of Appeal reversed. While the worker's injury likely worsened with time, it was traumatic and immediately disabling, which triggered the one-year limitations period.
The court noted that an ambulance transported the worker from the scene and he was placed on crutches after being treated at the hospital. He underwent surgery to replace a torn ligament two months after the accident. Although he did not formally stop working for the employer for seven months, the court concluded that he was never able to resume his job duties. Because the worker's injury was immediately apparent, his claim for benefits had to be filed within one year. Waiting a year and a half therefore made it untimely.
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June 21, 2010
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