Worker's knee brace, insertion of screw fail to toll statute of limitations
Case name: Johnson v. Publix Supermarkets, 19 FLWCLB 64 (Fla. JCC, Lakeland 2012).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims denied a worker's petition for benefits because it was barred by the statute of limitations.
What it means: In Florida, an employer's actual knowledge that a worker used a doctor-prescribed brace can toll the statute of limitations for a petition for benefits.
Summary: A worker injured his knee at work. He underwent surgery and had a screw inserted into his knee. His physical therapy referral included an instruction that he be weaned off a brace. He requested authorization for a return appointment with his doctor. The employer argued that the statute of limitations barred the worker's petition. The worker contended that his continued use of the knee brace and the insertion of the screw tolled the running of the statute. Upon review, the JCC agreed with the employer and denied the petition.
The worker did not establish that the employer had knowledge of his use of the brace. He often did not see a supervisor while working, and he wore the brace only to load and unload his truck four or five times per month. The fact that he occasionally wore the brace to work did not establish implied knowledge.
The JCC also rejected the worker's argument that the screw inserted into his knee was a medical device which tolled the statute. He failed to establish the purpose for inserting the screw.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 28, 2012
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