Employer can't offset worker's award with amount paid before amputation
Case name: Scott v. Fraser Papers, Inc., et al., No. WCB-12-353 (Maine 03/21/13).
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court held that in awarding specific loss benefits to a worker, the employer was not entitled to offset the incapacity benefits it paid after the worker's initial injury but before the amputation of his finger.
What it means: In Maine, in calculating an award for specific loss benefits, an employer is not entitled to offset incapacity benefits it paid to a worker after his injury but before his amputation.
A worker suffered a crush injury to his hand while working at a paper mill. The employer paid him total incapacity benefits for the time she was out of work. After he returned to work, his condition deteriorated, and his left index finger had to be amputated. The employer paid total incapacity benefits for the week the worker was out for surgery. The worker sought specific loss benefits for the amputation of his finger. The parties agreed that he was entitled to specific loss benefits for 38 weeks. The employer argued that it was entitled to an offset for the incapacity benefits it paid before the amputation. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court held that the employer was not entitled to an offset for the benefits it paid the worker before his amputation.
The worker argued that the employer was not entitled to an offset because he was not entitled to specific loss benefits until his finger was actually amputated. The court agreed, noting that several months passed between the worker's injury and the amputation of his finger. During the period immediately following his injury, he was not entitled to specific loss benefits. The court said that allowing an offset to apply only when a worker is entitled to incapacity benefits and specific loss benefits at the same time was consistent with the distinct treatment of injuries listed in the specific loss schedule.
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June 24, 2013
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