Significant Indiana Worker’s Compensation Cases 2005-2006
Statute of Limitations
- Colburn v. Kessler’s Team Sports - July, 2006 (App.Ct.)An employee’s application for authorization of surgery, filed more than 2 years after his work-related injury, was properly rejected as time-barred because the limitations period of I.C. 22-3-3-3 applied to claims for medical services and was not tolled by the failure of the employee and employer to disagree during the limitations period.
- Prentoski v. Five Star Painting, Inc. - November, 2005 (Sup.Ct.)Plaintiff failed to file application for increased PPI within one year of the last date TTD benefits were paid. (I.C. 22-3-3-27). Plaintiff argued that the one year statute of limitations ran from the date the employer actually paid the PPI award. The court disagreed, stating that "our court has repeatedly held that the one year statute of limitations begins to run from the date the claimant’s PPI or TTD benefits ended." (i.e., focusing on the last date "for which" compensation was paid, rather than the last date "on which" compensation was paid).
- Stump Home Specialties Manufacturing v. Miller - February, 2006 (App.Ct.)Where agreement was silent as to the period for which PPI payments were made, finding that PPI period began on date of maximum medical improvement (as opposed to accident date) was proper. Since plaintiff’s application for change of condition was within one year of last date for which compensation was paid - it was timely.Fee Provider Case
- Danielson v. Pratt Industries, Inc. - March, 2006 (App.Ct.)A doctor’s fee provider application was properly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, where there was no determination that the doctor’s patient was an "employee" of a company, or that the company was the "employer" of the patient.Exclusive Remedy(i) Dual Employment:
- Nickels v. Bryant - December, 2005 (App.Ct.)Injured worker, who accompanied independent contractor driver, brought personal injury action against driver of truck. Injured worker was deemed to be under "dual employment" of her employer and the independent contractor, such that she fell under the exclusive remedy of the Worker’s Compensation Act.
- Wishard Hospital v. Kerr - May, 2006 (App.Ct.)Nurse who was employed by a temporary staffing agency for a 4-week term at the hospital, was not deemed to be an employee of the hospital (i.e., dual employment) and, therefore, her negligence suit against the hospital was not barred by the exclusivity provisions of the Worker’s Compensation Act.(ii) Employee v. Independent Contractor
- Carter v. Property Owners Ins. Co. - May, 2006 (App.Ct.)Declaratory judgement action dealt with whether or not injured worker for moving company was an employee or independent contractor. This case listed and applied Indiana’s 10-factor analysis to distinguish employees from independent contractors, as follows:(a) The extent of control which, by the agreement, the master may exercise over the details of the work;(b) Whether or not the one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business;(c) The kind of occupation, with reference to whether, in the locality, the work is usually done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision;(d) The skill required in the particular occupation;(e) Whether the employer or the workman supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and the place of work for the person doing the work;(f) The length of time for which the person is employed;(g) The method of payment, whether by the time or by the job;(h) Whether or not the work is a part of the regular business of the employer;(i) Whether or not the parties believe they are creating the relation of master and servant; and,(j) Whether the principal is or is not in business.Arising Out of and In the Course of Employment
- Mueller v. Daimlerchrysler Motors Corp. - February, 2006 (App.Ct.)Employee’s fatal injury did not arise out of and in the course of employment when he was struck by a car while crossing street on his way to work, after parking his vehicle in mall parking lot, despite numerous tow-away warnings and employer’s policy, as well as fact that employer had sufficient parking available for employees during his shift.
- Indiana State Police v. Wiessing - November, 2005 (App.Ct.)A State trooper’s suicide, six years after incident in which trooper shot and killed motorist who attempted to take his gun, was not considered to be a self-inflicted injury which would have barred compensation, where the suicide was found to have resulted from post-traumatic stress disorder.Subrogation/Horseplay
- Depuy, Inc. v. Farmer - May, 2006 (Sup.Ct.)This case involved a scuffle that took place between two employees as they were clocking out of work. The injured worker settled a civil suit against the co-employee for intentional injury in the work place. Although the settlement was reached before worker’s compensation benefits were resolved, it did not serve as a bar to further worker’s compensation benefits. However, if further worker’s compensation benefits are awarded, the employer is entitled to subrogation rights to prevent double recovery.This case also re-affirmed the long standing rule that while a participant in horseplay is not entitled to worker’s compensation benefits, an innocent victim of horseplay by others is entitled to benefits.Retaliatory Discharge
- Tony v. Elkhart County - August, 2006 (App.Ct.)An at-will-employee who has not been expressly discharged can bring a common law claim for retaliatory discharge against his employer if he alleges that he was constructively discharged. In this case, the employee was able to do so by claiming he terminated his employment when the employer created hostile and intolerable working conditions.
- Purdy v. Wright Tree Service - October, 2005 (App.Ct.)An employee who claimed he was fired in retaliation for claiming worker’s compensation did not show his employer’s legitimate, non-discriminatory, reason for firing him was pretextual, as he was treated consistently with the employer’s leave policy, and the remarks of a supervisor who was not involved in the discharge decision were not actionable.