Case name: Bovee v. Home Depot, USA, Inc., No. M2009-01645-WC-R3-WC (Tenn. 08/18/10).
Ruling: The Tennessee Supreme Court held that the statute of limitations barred a worker's claim for benefits for a hip injury.
What it means: The Tennessee statute of limitations begins to run when by reasonable care and diligence the injury is discoverable and it is apparent that the injury is work-related.
A worker alleged that he injured his shoulders, feet, and hips as a result of his employment for a store. His job required climbing ladders, lifting cans of paint, and walking across the store's concrete floors. The worker twisted his body to allow a customer to pass while he was carrying a five-gallon bucket of pain and he immediately felt pain in his hip. The worker reported the injury to a supervisor and declined medical treatment. Nearly one year later, the worker reported the injury to the store's human resources manager. A physician diagnosed him with severe arthritis that was "probably aggravated by his work duties." The store accepted the feet and shoulder injuries as compensable but denied the hip injury claim. The Tennessee Supreme Court held that the worker was not entitled to benefits for the hip injury.
The store argued that the worker did not give sufficient notice of his injury. The court stated that although the worker's conversation with the supervisor was brief, it conveyed the essential information to give the store knowledge of the event.
The store next argued that the worker's claim for the hip injury was barred by a one-year statute of limitations. The worker argued that his injury was gradual so the statute should not begin to run until he was no longer able to work due to his injuries. The court concluded that the hip injury was the result of a single, traumatic event. Additionally, the worker knew or believed that he sustained a significant work injury immediately or shortly after it occurred. The worker had knowledge of the workers' compensation system through his previous employment. His suit was filed 22 months after the injury, so the claim for the hip injury was barred.
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December 2, 2010
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