Five Recent Cases You Should Know About (12/31/2010)

Five Recent Cases You Should Know About (12/31/2010)

Larson's Spotlight on Horseplay, Illegal Alien, Sexual Assault, Independent Contractor, Chronic Pain and Depression. Larson's surveys the latest case developments that you need to know about. Thomas A. Robinson, the staff writer for Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, has compiled the list below.

OK: Injured Worker Was Not "Innocent Victim" of Horseplay; Claim Isn't Compensable

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma recently ruled that trial judge's findings, and a decision by a three-judge panel of the Workers' Compensation Court, that claimant was an "innocent victim" of horseplay was erroneous as a matter of law.  Finding that the undisputed evidence was that a co-employee initiated the horseplay by throwing a roll of toilet paper at claimant, that against his instructor's express instruction, claimant joined in the horseplay by chasing the co-employee, the court indicated there was nothing to support the finding that claimant had been an innocent victim.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2010 Okla. LEXIS 95. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 23.02.

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DC: Illegal Alien is Covered Employee for Workers' Compensation Purposes and Inability Legally to Return to Work Does Not Defeat Disability Benefits

In a case of first impression within the jurisdiction, a District of Columbia appellate court has held that an undocumented alien is an employee for purposes of the  D.C. Workers' Compensation Act and is, therefore, entitled to workers' compensation benefits following a work-related injury.  Citing Dowling v. Slotnik, 712 A.2d 396 (Conn. 1998) and Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, Ch. 66, § 66.03, the court observed that the vast majority of decisions agreed that illegal aliens could be considered employees.  The court also noted that the fact that the employee could not work for reasons beyond his injury--based upon his illegal status--did not affect his right to benefits, as long as the injury independently caused that disability.  Here the employee was "disabled" within the meaning of the Workers' Compensation Act.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2010 D.C. App. LEXIS 732. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 66.03.

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NM: Employee's Delay in Reporting Work-Related Sexual Assault Does Not Defeat Claim For Benefits

A New Mexico appellate court recently held that a worker's failure to report a work-related sexual assault that resulted in post traumatic stress syndrome until 19 days after the incident--the statute requires notice to the employer of work-related injuries within 15 days--was excused where evidence indicated the worker delayed in reporting the incident due to fear and shame.  Quoting Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the court observed that the law does not require the impossible of the employee, that lateness of notice and the claim may be excused for various reasons, including mental or physical incapacity.   The court also noted that post traumatic stress disorder generally does not become manifest until sometime after the traumatic incident; the statutory clock should not begin to run until the worker knew, or should have known that he or she had sustained a compensable injury.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2010 N.M. App. LEXIS 151. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 126.09.

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WA: Federal "Economic Realities Test" Should Be Used to Determine Independent Contractor Status

An appellate court in Washington state has determined that the "Economic Realties Test" used by many federal courts in Fair Labor Standards Act cases is the appropriate standard for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contract.  While the primary issue before the court related to the state's Minimum Wage Act and not its workers' compensation law, the case would likely be followed for disputes involving injuries within the work place as well.  The economic realities test used by a majority of the federal circuits has six factors.  They are (1) the permanence of the working relationship between the parties; (2) the degree of skill the work entails; (3) the extent of the worker's investment in equipment or materials; (4) the worker's opportunity for profit or loss; (5) the degree of the alleged employer's control over the worker; and (6) whether the service rendered by the worker is an integral part of the alleged employer's business.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2010 Wash. App. LEXIS 2805. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 60.02.

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AL: Worker Entitled to Nonscheduled Award Where in Addition to Ankle Injury, He Suffered From Chronic Pain and Depression

An appellate court in Alabama has concluded that an injured worker sustained a nonscheduled injury to the body as a whole, rather than a scheduled injury to his ankle, based upon findings that the worker suffered severe depression resulting from the initial injury--which was limited to his ankle-- four subsequent surgeries, and chronic pain associated with his ankle condition.  Affirming a finding of total and permanent disability, the court also noted that the test for total disability does not require absolute helplessness.  The court indicated the testimony in the case, although conflicting, was sufficient to support the conclusion that the worker, because of his ankle injury, the chronic pain resulting therefrom, the side effects of his medications, and his depression, was permanently and totally disabled from gainful employment.

FREE VERSION: Access the case on lexisONE free case law. Click on tab for Free Case Law. Click on the radio button for Search by Citation. Enter this citation: 2010 Ala. Civ. App. LEXIS 392. Then click on the red button Search for Free. Note: If you haven't registered for free at lexisONE, you will be prompted to do so in order to access the free case law.

FULLY FEATURED VERSION: Lexis.com subscribers can read the fully featured case here. See generally Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, § 87.02.

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Source: Larson's Workers' Compensation Law, the nation's leading authority on workers' compensation law