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Worker's comp claim bars med mal complaint

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a hospital's motion to dismiss a medical malpractice complaint because the claimant, who was employed by the hospital and on duty at the time of the injury, could only file a complaint against the employer under the Worker's Compensation Act.

In ProCare Rehab Services of Community Hospital v. Janice S. Vitatoe,  No. 49A02-0707-CV-583, Janice Vitatoe, who was employed as a registered nurse by Community, slipped and fell during her shift and injured her right hamstring. She began treatment with an orthopedic surgeon at Central Indiana Orthopedics and underwent outpatient physical therapy at ProCare Rehab Services, which is a department of Community.

Vitatoe filed a worker's compensation claim against Community. After she was no longer employed by the hospital, she filed a proposed medical malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance, alleging negligence of her orthopedic surgeon, Central Indiana Orthopedics, and ProCare.

Vitatoe and Community settled the worker's compensation claim and Community moved to dismiss the medical malpractice complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The trial court denied Community's motion.

The Worker's Compensation Act contains an exclusivity provision that the rights and remedies granted to an employee through the act "shall exclude all other rights and remedies of such employee ... at common law or otherwise ..." The Indiana Supreme Court has ruled that the Worker's Compensation Act's exclusivity provision bars a court from hearing any common law action brought by the employee based on the same injuries.

Community argues that Vitatoe's injuries arose out of and in the course of her employment so her medical malpractice claim against Community is barred under the Worker's Compensation Act. Vitatoe counters that the injuries that form the basis for her complaint didn't arise from and in the course of her employment but during treatment for the original injury.

Citing previous caselaw, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that if an employee's injury happened during the course of her employment is aggravated by treatment for that injury, regardless of where, when, by whom, and for how long the treatment was provided, the injury caused by the treatment will be deemed as a matter of law to have come out of and in the course of her employment for purposes of the Worker's Compensation Act. As a result, the employee's exclusive remedy against the employer for the injury caused by the treatment is under the act, wrote Judge Terry Crone.

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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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