Friday, July 20, 2012
This week the Colorado Court of Appeals decided a case involving mental injury. In Kieckhafer the claimant asserted a claim for work related emotional distress. She did not succeed and the appeal followed. In Colorado stress cases are difficult to handle. All work has some measure of stress and claims would be immense if the standards for recovery were loose so Colorado has tightened up on them. In this case the claimant lost the appeal because the court determined that you need evidence from a physician or psychologist to establish the claim. The claimant only used a licensed social worker and a physicians assistant. That is simply not enough. The claimant alleged that the law makes it impossible to prove the claim because you have to prove a permanent disability before you can get benefits so it forces you to pay for your own treatment. Once you reach MMI then you are permanent so the law prevents coverage until you reach MMI (maximum medical improvement). The court disagreed with that view but a claimant still has to provide proper evidence. In any event a full reading of the case is wise because it is a bit complicated and involved. Anyone with a pure stress case has a tough road to obtain benefits so obtain an attorney if you can.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
While not applicable in most work injury cases these two cases remind us that a work injury can lead to additional claims and that offsets are still a complicated matter. Decided on April 26,2012 the Zerba case involves offsets. That is, what can be deducted from your workers comp benefits. Social security benefits can be an offset to permanent total disability benefits and the case goes into the subject of offsets. Military retirement benefits are not typical offsets for Colorado employers as is noted in the case. The claimant also did assert constitutional matters so we shall see if an effort is made to take the case to the Colorado Supreme Court. In the Schuessler case the decision addressed claims that came from a work injury claim. The claimant sued a doctor for malpractice and the workers comp insurer for bad faith. The insurer raised many issues to include subrogation or its right to seek reimbursement. The case addresses many matters but this was not a workers comp appeal. It more involved matters which came from the underlying workers comp case.