Case name: Mitchell v. Petsmart, Inc., No. 99,528 (Kan. 09/10/10).
The Kansas Supreme Court reversed the lower court's decision that the worker's multiple injuries should be combined at the highest level of the scheduled injury. It remanded the case for a recalculation of the worker's permanent partial disability benefits.
What it means:
Kansas law requires compensation for each scheduled injury when multiple injuries occur within a single extremity.
Summary: A worker fell while working in a pet store and broke his left thumb. One month after the accident, the store changed insurers. Later, the worker reported pain in his shoulders, arms, elbows, and hands. The worker was terminated for poor attendance. The worker argued that his multiple arm injuries should not have been combined into one scheduled injury for each arm at the shoulder level and that he should have been compensated for them separately. The Kansas Supreme Court held that the worker was entitled to an award at each separate level for his multiple injuries to the same extremity. The court sent the case back for a recalculation of the worker's award.
The worker was also awarded 18 weeks of temporary total disability by the Workers' Compensation Board for the injuries to his right shoulder. He also received a permanent partial disability award. Under Kansas law, an injured worker is typically awarded 225 weeks for the loss of an arm at the shoulder. The worker argued that his award should not have been reduced by the 18 weeks. The court stated that Kansas law expressly provides for the deduction.
The store's second insurer argued that the secondary injury rule applied, which would make the date of accident the date the worker suffered the initial thumb injury. The court stated that evidence supported a finding that the shoulder, hand, and elbow injuries were the combined result of repetitive work and overcompensation use from the initial thumb injury. Kansas courts previously ruled that in repetitive injury situations, the date of injury is the last day worked.
The insurers disputed their liabilities for the compensation awarded to the worker. The court stated that this matter should be decided in a separate proceeding.
Read more at the WorkersComp
November 22, 2010
Copyright 2010© LRP Publications