ILNews

Court examines future medical care in workers' comp case

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

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.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
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

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT