Worker entitled to reimbursement for wheelchair, chair lift repairs
Case name: Wiley v. Midwest Poultry Services, LP, No. 93A02-1107-EX-593 (Ind. Ct. App. 03/19/12, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that a worker was entitled to reimbursement from his employer for the repairs to his wheelchair and chair lift.
What it means: In Indiana, an employer can be required to furnish medical services and supplies to limit or reduce the amount and extent of a worker's impairment, unless the parties agree otherwise.
Summary: A worker lost his balance and fell 15 feet while attempting to weld pipes together at work. He suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down. The employer provided him with a motorized wheelchair designed to handle rough and uneven terrain and a hydraulic chair lift for his truck. The parties signed a settlement agreement in which the employer agreed to pay the worker $3,000 in exchange for the worker waiving his claim for the cost of a replacement scooter. The worker also waived any claims for the repair to his truck. The worker sought payment for the costs of repairing his wheelchair and the chair lift. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the worker was entitled to reimbursement from the employer for the repairs to his wheelchair and chair lift.
The court explained that the worker's impairment was his lack of mobility, and the wheelchair limited and reduced the extent of his impairment. The court concluded that the parties' agreement provided that the worker agreed to waive his claim for a temporary replacement scooter when his original wheelchair needed repairs. He was entitled to reimbursement for the repairs to the wheelchair.
The court also agreed with the worker's contention that the agreement made no reference to reimbursement for repairs to the chair lift, but only the truck. Since the repairs at issue were to the chair lift, he was entitled to reimbursement from the employer.
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May 21, 2012
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