Finding that a construction supervisor’s receipt of unemployment benefits didn’t preclude him from eligibility for temporary total disability benefits, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a total award of more than $61,000 to the injured worker.
Christopher Collings was injured while at work for Platinum Construction Group when a wall fell on him during the framing of a house. He was initially given $3,180 in temporary total disability benefits. When he was released by his doctor to full duty, those benefits ended. But at that time, Platinum laid off its employees and closed its doors. Collings attempted to find work at other construction companies and tried to start his own company, but was unable to earn more than $1,200 due to pain from his injuries.
He filed for unemployment benefits and later sought a second opinion on his injuries, which led a doctor to rate his permanent partial impairment at 18 percent. That’s when Collings filed for an adjustment of claim with the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board. A hearing member awarded him $35,526 in additional TTD benefits, plus 26,210 in PPI benefits. The full board affirmed.
Platinum argued in Platinum Construction Group, LLC v. Christopher Collings, 93A02-1210-EX-882, that Collings couldn’t receive additional TTD benefits because he received unemployment benefits.
“Simply put, Collings was unable to perform work of the same kind and character due to the injuries that he suffered while working for Platinum. As a result, he met the statutory requirements to receive TTD benefits. After Dr. Yergler released him to full duty, he attempted to perform construction work but was unsuccessful. At the same time, he was willing, able, and available to work in a capacity that was less physically taxing, as required by the unemployment compensation statute,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “Because the Board credited Platinum for the sums that Collings had received as unemployment benefits, Collings did not receive a windfall. Thus, his benefits cannot be characterized as duplicative. Under these facts, the Board did not err in concluding that Collings’s receipt of unemployment benefits did not preclude him from eligibility for TTD benefits.”
Platinum also challenged the sufficiency of the board’s findings support its order awarding Collings money for PPI, but it appeared that the company was challenging the relative credibility of the physicians who examined Collings. The Court of Appeals reminded Platinum that it may not reweigh evidence or judge witness credibility.