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Temporary benefits are awarded during periods of incapacity from work because the claimant cannot earn wages in the former work, or similar work, or in other work for which the claimant has the mentality and attainment. Eligibility is not based solely on the physical impairment, but also on the capacity to obtain work.
Plaintiff claimant suffered a work-related injury while employed by defendant employer and began receiving temporary total disability benefits. Surgery was subsequently recommended but because of plaintiff's pregnancy her doctor recommended the operation be delayed until after birth. Thereafter, defendant notified plaintiff and the labor department that it would discontinue her benefits based on the superseding intervening act of getting pregnant. The labor commissioner declined to terminate the benefits. Defendant employer appealed.
Under the circumstances, was the plaintiff claimant still entitled to the temporary total disability benefits, notwithstanding the fact of her pregnancy?
On appeal, the court found the fact that plaintiff's pregnancy indirectly prolonged the period during which she was unemployable did not change the fact that her injury, not her pregnancy, rendered her unable to work. Therefore, the pregnancy was not a superseding, intervening event that broke the causal connection between the work-related accident and plaintiff's disability. It then found that the temporary flare doctrine was inapplicable because plaintiff's injury was not a work-related injury and defendant was not seeking an allocation of benefits. Finding defendant's remaining contentions to be meritless, the court affirmed the commissioner's decision.