Indiana claim not barred by Wisconsin settlement for accident
Case name: Brennon v. First Advantage Corp. d/b/a Omega Insurance Services, No. 93A02-1202-EX-108 (Ind. Ct. App. 07/27/12).
Ruling: The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a worker's claim should not be dismissed even though he settled a claim for the same incident in Wisconsin.
What it means: In Indiana, a worker's receipt of workers' compensation benefits in another state as the result of a negotiated settlement agreement, rather than a unilateral, voluntary payment does not automatically prevent his receipt of Indiana benefits.
Summary: A worker who lived in Wisconsin was hired by an insurance company to perform investigative services in Indiana. While driving in Indiana, he collided with another vehicle. He filed a workers' compensation claim against the company in Wisconsin. The company settled his Wisconsin claim for a lump-sum payment of $100,000 in compensation. The worker also filed a workers' compensation claim in Indiana. The company had different workers' compensation insurers in each state. The company asserted that the Indiana claim was barred. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the worker's claim could move forward.
The court explained that the Indiana claim could not be barred simply because the worker's receipt of benefits in Wisconsin was the result of a negotiated settlement rather than a unilateral, voluntary payment by the company. The court examined the Wisconsin settlement to determine if it expressly disallowed a later award in a different state. The court found the Wisconsin settlement specifically preserved the worker's Indiana claims against the company. The settlement stated that claims against the company's Indiana insurer would remain open. The court pointed out that the company was part of the negotiations that resulted in the settlement agreement and could have sought to include a provision that would have prevented the worker from pursuing his Indiana claim.
The court found that the doctrine of collateral estoppel did not bar the Indiana claim. The worker did not have an opportunity to litigate the issues in Wisconsin, so the doctrine did not apply.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 15, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications