Employer's ability to reopen settled claim thwarted by time limit
Pepsi Cola General Bottlers, Inc. v. Murrell, et al., No. 2009-CA-002044-WC (Ky. Ct. App. 05/07/10, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the Workers' Compensation Board's finding that the employer's ability to reopen a settlement to reduce the employee's benefits had expired.
What it means: While a settlement agreement may provide the employer a right to reopen the claim if the employee returns to work at the same or greater wages, that right is subject to the applicable four-year limitation period. As a result, a request to reopen made five years after the award is time-barred.
Summary: A route salesman injured his back and knee in December 2000. He settled his workers' compensation claim, and the agreement was approved in November 2003. Because of his disability, the employee could not return to his former employment. The employer therefore agreed to pay him a triple income benefit.
The settlement agreement provided, however, that if the employee returned to work at the same or greater wages, the employer could reopen the claim. When the employer tried to reopen the claim five years later, the employee objected, contending that the request was untimely. The Court of Appeals agreed, finding that the employer's right to reopen expired four years after the award in accordance with the applicable statute of limitations.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
July 15, 2010
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