IN worker’s comp claim for KY employee was untimely, COA affirms

IL file photo

A man who didn’t file his worker’s compensation claim in Indiana until 2½ years after his accident is not entitled to benefits because his claim was not timely, the Court of Appeals of Indiana has affirmed.

The worker’s comp case involves Richard Sharp, who lived in Indiana but worked for Louisville, Kentucky-based Armstrong Relocation.

On Dec. 5, 2018, Sharp was working for Armstrong in Indiana when he was in a car accident. Armstrong reported the accident to the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims, and Sharp began receiving $614.99 in weekly disability benefits.

Then in June 2021, Sharp filed a worker’s compensation claim in Indiana. Armstrong moved to dismiss the claim because it wasn’t filed within the two-year statute of limitations set forth in the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act.

A single member of the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board agreed with Armstrong and dismissed the petition, and the full board affirmed.

The Court of Appeals of Indiana also affirmed Monday in Richard Sharp v. Armstrong Relocation, 22A-EX-2865.

“Sharp asserts that he timely filed his claim under (Indiana Code) Section 22-3-3-27 because he ‘was still receiving indemnity benefits when he filed his Application for Adjustment of Claims’ with the Board in June 2021,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote. “But Sharp was receiving indemnity benefits in Kentucky, not Indiana.

“Section 22-3-3-27(a) provides that the Board may ‘make such modification or change in the award ending, lessening, continuing, or extending the payments previously awarded … subject to the maximum and minimum’ set forth in the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act,” Vaidik wrote. “When Sharp filed his Indiana claim, there was no existing award in Indiana to be modified.

“Sharp cites no authority for the proposition that the Board has the authority to enter a modification order in relation to the worker’s compensation benefits received from another state,” the judge continued. “Because Sharp didn’t have an existing award in Indiana when he filed his claim with the Board in June 2021, Section 22-3-3-27 doesn’t make his claim timely. The board properly dismissed Sharp’s claim because it wasn’t filed within two years of the accident as required by Section 22-3-3-3.”

In a final note, the COA rejected Sharp’s argument that he “shouldn’t be forced into a neighboring state’s worker’s compensation system just because his employer chose to file the First Report of Injury in Kentucky instead of Indiana.”

“… (A)s the single hearing member found, nothing prevented Sharp from seeking worker’s compensation benefits in Indiana,” the appellate court concluded. “He just had to do so within two years of the accident. Any change in this scheme would have to come from our legislature.”

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