The case of Daniel Small v. Red Simpson, Inc. was decided by the Western District Missouri Court of Appeals on November 17, 2015. Mr. Small was hired in the state of Missouri to work for his company but injured on the job in Texas working for his company as an electric lineman. In September 1995 Mr. Small received an electric shock to his body while working as a lineman.
This injury resulted in the amputation of his forearm and severe scarring of his abdomen where the electricity exited his body. He filed a Texas workers compensation claim, received medical treatment and temporary off-work compensation lost wage benefits, and settled his claim for permanent disability benefits by the end of October 2003. His employer Red Simpson continued making payments on his 1995 injury for another three years, ending in June 2009, but failed to file any Missouri Report of Injury after it had filed one in Texas.
A worker can file a Missouri workers compensation claim either if he is injured in an accident in the state of Missouri or if he is hired in the state of Missouri but then injured in a state outside of Missouri working for the employer who had originally hired him in Missouri. After Small continued receiving medical benefits for his injury in Texas up through June 2009 he filed a Missouri workmen’s compensation claim nine years after settling his Texas claim.
The employer and its workers comp insurer argued that he had filed his claim too late and that its filing of a report of injury in Texas in the late 1990’s started the Missouri statute of limitations running, meaning that when he filed his Missouri workmen’s compensation claim ten years later it was too late and should be thrown out even though the employer never bothered to file a report of injury in Missouri. The administrative law judge ruled it was filed long after statute of limitations had run and on appeal the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission agreed, upholding the judge’s ruling to dismiss his claim.
Then Mr. Small appealed that ruling to the Missouri Court of Appeals. He argued that his employer’s failure to file a report of injury with the Missouri Division of Workers Compensation meant that the employer’s filing the Texas report of injury did not trigger the Missouri statute of limitation to start running, so that the longer, 3-year statute of limitation applied from the last date a medical benefit was paid (June 2009). In 2005 when the Missouri legislature passed major amendments to the Missouri Workers Compensation Law to make it harder to qualify for benefits it added in a provision that required the law be read strictly (literally the way it had been written).
The Court of Appeals reversed the Industrial Commission’s decision that the employer’s filing of a report of the injury with the state of Texas triggered the Missouri statute of limitations to start running, meaning that when Small filed his Missouri claim 10 years later the filing deadline had long since passed by. The appeals court ruled that his employer’s reporting the accident and injury to Texas did NOT start the statute of limitations filing deadline running.
Thus when Small filed his claim in Missouri in October 2009 only four months after received his last medical payment benefit in June 2009 the time limit to file his Missouri claim had NOT yet passed and run out. So the Missouri Court of Appeals allowed an extension of Small’s time deadline for filing his parallel claim in Missouri and allowed him to pursue his Missouri workmen’s compensation claim to force his old employer Red Simpson and their workman’s compensation insurance company to pay him Missouri workmen’s compensation benefits.
The ironic thing about the court’s ruling is that the Missouri legislature’s change in its workers compensation law to make it harder for workers injured on the job to get workmen’s comp benefits by making judges interpret the law literally ended up allowing the injured worker to file his Missouri claim many years after he was injured in Texas and filed and settled that claim simply because the employee kept on receiving workman’s compensation medical benefits from his employer, who never bothered to report the injury in Missouri.
One good reason a worker injured on the job in a work accident really should consult and hire a lawyer is that even when the company finally sends you out to a doctor for treatment, the doctors they choose for treatment will do everything they can to deny or minimize the worker’s injuries. They will go out of their way to blame any work injuries on pre-existing degeneration (like arthritis) or previous injuries they can find.
A good, experienced hard-fighting workers compensation attorney can gather up all the medical treatment records and send the injured worker out for an evaluation by medical experts who will work in the employee’s interests and enable the injured worker to prove his case to a workmen’s compensation judge. If you get hurt on the job in the course of your work for an employer you need to go consult and then hire a good attorney to fight for your rights to enforce your rights the company denies you.
St. Louis Workers Compensation Center can defend your rights to workers compensation benefits and demand treatment and money benefits. They can help you fight to enforce your legal rights to benefits. They can fight to keep the company from cancelling or underpaying your benefits. Please call Tom Hyatt for advice and assistance on any work-related injury suffered on the job in either St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Franklin County, St. Charles County, Warren County, Lincoln County, Jefferson County, or any other counties in eastern Missouri within 125 miles of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area.
Our consultations are completely free of charge. Tom Hyatt will talk to you about your case right away. He will fight as hard he can to enforce all of your rights to Missouri workers compensation benefits. Our attorney’s fee would be a modest percentage of the Missouri workers’ comp disability benefits we get for you. Please call now for a free consultation. (See Contact Us).