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Appeals court finds for insurer in worker’s comp case where victim’s mother died

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The mother of an injured worker whose estate claims she died due to emotional distress caused by an insurer’s handling of her son’s case cannot directly sue the insurer before exhausting the regulatory process, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

In Amerisafe Risk Services, Inc., and Leerae Riggs v. The Estate of Hazel D. Wadsack, deceased, by Ronald J. Wadsack as Personal Rep., and Ronald J. Wadsack, individually, 88A01-1204-CT-144, the trial court without explanation denied Amerisafe’s motion to dismiss. The estate claimed that Hazel Wadsack died as a result of emotional distress at the handling of her son’s worker’s compensation claim. Matthew Wadsack had been severely shocked and burned while working for Mills Tree Service and was in a coma for some time.

“The Wadsacks argue that the Worker’s Compensation Board … does not have jurisdiction because their claims are not on behalf of Matthew, or based directly on his injuries, but instead are based on the handling of Matthew’s claims. We disagree,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote for the unanimous panel.

The judges ruled that I.C. 22-3-2-6.2 extends to personal representatives and next of kin. “While the Wadsacks may not have a claim for benefits pending themselves, the Board nonetheless has jurisdiction over their suit, which is a derivative of Matthew’s claim for benefits,” Robb wrote.

The court also rejected the Wadsacks’ argument that a requirement to have their case heard by the board deprived them of the open courts provision of articles 1 and 12 of the Indiana Constitution. It noted the Wadsacks would have access to court to challenge an adverse ruling from the Worker’s Compensation Board, and the panel also agreed with Amerisafe that direct suits against third-party insurers are generally not allowed in Indiana.

 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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