Impairment incurred 2 years prior to claim not excluded from award
Case name: Quebecor Book Co. v. Mikletich, et al., No. 2010-SC-000122-WC (Ky. 09/23/10).
Ruling: The Kentucky Supreme Court held that a worker's 6 percent hearing loss from two years prior to filing his claim should not be excluded from his award.
means: Kentucky law requires an 8 percent impairment rating for income benefits to be awarded for hearing loss and has a two-year statute of limitations that is triggered when a physician tells a worker of his injury and its cause. If a worker has notice of work-related hearing loss more than two years before filing a claim, compensation for the impairment is not barred, even if the impairment rating is less than 8 percent.
Summary: A worker had no hearing impairment when he began working in a printing plant. The plant recognized that employees could be exposed to hazardous noise and implemented a formal hearing conservation program that included annual hearing tests. The worker had a ringing sensation in his ears and a pattern of increasing high-frequency hearing loss over the years. The worker met with the plant's human resources representative to discuss his hearing loss and complete an injury report. The worker filed for benefits. The worker had a 6 percent impairment rating two years before he filed his claim and a 23 percent impairment rating at the time he filed the claim. The plant argued that the worker should not be entitled to benefits for the 6 percent impairment that existed two years before filing his claim. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that the worker was entitled to benefits for a 23 percent impairment.
Kentucky law requires at least an 8 percent impairment rating of hearing loss for income benefits to be awarded. In deciding that the 6 percent impairment should not be excluded from the award of income benefits, the court explained that two years prior to filing the claim, the worker's hearing loss failed to rise to the level of compensability and no medical evidence showed that his injury required treatment at that time.
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December 23, 2010
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