Worker's greater wage after injury curbs entitlement to PPD benefits
Decker v. State of Wyoming, ex rel., Workers' Safety and Compensation Division, No. S-12-0250
Ruling: The Wyoming Supreme Court held that a worker was not entitled to permanent partial disability benefits.
What it means: In Wyoming, in order to receive permanent partial disability benefits, a worker must show that he was unable to return to work at a wage at least 95 percent of his earnings at the time of his injury.
Summary: A worker was diagnosed with a work-related wrist injury. He received temporary total disability benefits. His symptoms progressed, and he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. The Workers' Safety and Compensation Division issued a decision finding that he had a 4 percent whole body permanent partial impairment. The worker sought permanent partial disability benefits. The Wyoming Supreme Court held that he was not entitled to PPD benefits.
The court found no evidence supporting the worker's preinjury wage that the division used to determine his TTD benefits. The court found that pay receipts of the worker's wages from the third quarter of the year he was injured were more reliable evidence of his wage at the time of the injury. He earned more than he did in the two prior quarters, and the court noted that this was favorable to him.
The court explained that the worker's wages after he returned to work could not be based on a "snapshot" of his wage at any one time. The worker was continuously employed for eight years since returning to work before he filed for benefits. He worked seven years in the HVAC industry, the same area he worked in at the time of his injury. The court found that those seven years of employment best represented his ability to earn a living. The court found that the worker's wage after the injury was greater than his preinjury wage, so he was not entitled to PPD benefits.
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September 16, 2013
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