Friday, October 14, 2011
Court Allows TTD After MMI in Loofbourrow Case
In Loofbourrow the Colorado Court of Appeals dealt with a case where the claimant had been placed at MMI (maximum medical improvement)by the authorized medical physician at the time. He returned to work and then worsened. At that point he requested medical treatment and the situation deteriorated as the Respondents denied the claim and did not provide treatment. Even the AWW (average weekly wage) was disputed. At the hearing the judge ruled in favor of the claimant on the issues. He was granted TTD (temporary total disability) benefits even though he had been previously placed at MMI and never contested that. The claim was determined to be compensable and claimant had the right to pick his doctor given the lack of medical treatment. He even won on the AWW issue which seemed to involve reduced hours after the original injury but the judge provided a higher figure. The other side appealed and ICAP (Industrial Claim Appeals Panel) overturned the award of TTD which led to the court decision just issued this week. The court affirmed the judge and reversed ICAP. The Respondents asserted that after being placed at MMI which was never disputed the claimant could not receive TTD. That legal position is a correct one when a claimant has been receiving TTD and reaches MMI. However in this case the court reasoned that after MMI he worsened so the claim remained open to further review. He did not need to seek to reopen and his right to challenge the earlier MMI could not happen until after a FAL (Final Admission of Liability) was filed which had yet to happen. Can you imagine the position this claimant was in? He is hurt at work but seemingly quickly recovers. But his hours are reduced and when he worsens the Respondents decide to fight everything. It is appealed and then appealed again to the court. How long did this person go without benefits as the administrative process went through all the appeals? It appears the last work was in August 2009 so while the court ruled in the claimants favor it took quite a while to obtain benefits and that is assuming there will not be a further appeal. UPDATE: The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed this decision on January 27, 2014.