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Court examines future medical care in workers' comp case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday that just because a worker injured on the job reaches the maximum amount of compensation allowed by state statute, that doesn’t mean that future care won’t be needed, and that may warrant additional payments in order to continue treating pain or injury from the underlying accident.

In a unanimous decision in Randall Perkins v. Jayco, Inc., No. 93A02-1104-EX-361, a three-judge appellate panel found the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board applied an incorrect inference in affirming a single hearing board member’s decision to deny an injured man’s request for palliative care.

In December 2003, Randall Perkins was working at Jayco when 1,000 pounds of laminated panels fell and injured him. The employer provided temporary total disability compensation and medical expenses for the injury, but a single hearing board member later denied Perkins’ additional claim for future medical expenses because he’d already been compensated and was at the maximum medical improvement (MMI) from his primary treating physician and other doctors. The full Worker’s Compensation Board found Perkins had reached MMI, but didn’t make any finding regarding his palliative care request.

After the Court of Appeals remanded the case in 2009 with instructions for the board to address that palliative care issue, a single hearing member in 2010 determined that Perkins is not in need of any additional medical care, including palliative care, because he’d already reached the maximum for compensation. The full board affirmed that second ruling, and Perkins appealed again.

The appellate panel found nothing wrong with how the single hearing member and board addressed the case procedurally and included new findings, but reversed on the issue of future care being impacted by the maximum medical improvement.

Judge Edward Najam wrote that MMI does not speak to the need for future care that could limit or reduce the patient’s impairment, such as when an employee with a permanent back disability has reached the limit with regard to healing but pain continues.

“Treatment of that pain may mitigate, though not alleviate, the effects of the disability,” he wrote. “Such is the nature of palliative care allowed under (Indiana Code) Section 22-3-3-4(c). Here, again, the Board concluded that a finding of MMI allows an inference that future treatment is unnecessary. But MMI relates to a curative state. Palliative care does not. Instead, palliative care is treatment to reduce the effects of an impairment, not to cure the condition causing the impairment.”

Even with that finding, though, the appellate panel determined the error was harmless because the board found Perkins’ future treatment request was unrelated to his December 2003 work accident and was a pre-existing condition. In the end, the judgment denying Perkins’ request for future medical treatment wasn’t wrong, the appellate court wrote.
 

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  1. The is an unsigned editorial masquerading as a news story. Almost everyone quoted was biased in favor of letting all illegal immigrants remain in the U.S. (Ignoring that Obama deported 3.5 million in 8 years). For some reason Obama enforcing part of the immigration laws was O.K. but Trump enforcing additional parts is terrible. I have listed to press conferences and explanations of the Homeland Security memos and I gather from them that less than 1 million will be targeted for deportation, the "dreamers" will be left alone and illegals arriving in the last two years -- especially those arriving very recently -- will be subject to deportation but after the criminals. This will not substantially affect the GDP negatively, especially as it will take place over a number of years. I personally think this is a rational approach to the illegal immigration problem. It may cause Congress to finally pass new immigration laws rationalizing the whole immigration situation.

  2. Mr. Straw, I hope you prevail in the fight. Please show us fellow American's that there is a way to fight the corrupted justice system and make them an example that you and others will not be treated unfairly. I hope you the best and good luck....

  3. @ President Snow - Nah, why try to fix something that ain't broken??? You do make an excellent point. I am sure some Mickey or Minnie Mouse will take Ruckers seat, I wonder how his retirement planning is coming along???

  4. Can someone please explain why Judge Barnes, Judge Mathias and Chief Judge Vaidik thought it was OK to re weigh the evidence blatantly knowing that by doing so was against the rules and went ahead and voted in favor of the father? I would love to ask them WHY??? I would also like to ask the three Supreme Justices why they thought it was OK too.

  5. How nice, on the day of my car accident on the way to work at the Indiana Supreme Court. Unlike the others, I did not steal any money or do ANYTHING unethical whatsoever. I am suing the Indiana Supreme Court and appealed the failure of the district court in SDIN to protect me. I am suing the federal judge because she failed to protect me and her abandonment of jurisdiction leaves her open to lawsuits because she stripped herself of immunity. I am a candidate for Indiana Supreme Court justice, and they imposed just enough sanction so that I am made ineligible. I am asking the 7th Circuit to remove all of them and appoint me as the new Chief Justice of Indiana. That's what they get for dishonoring my sacrifice and and violating the ADA in about 50 different ways.

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