Court examines future medical care in workers' comp case

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Lori, you must really love wedding cake stories like this one ... happy enuf ending for you?

  2. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  3. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  4. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  5. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?