Permanent Partial Compensation – Statute of Limitations

In Perez v. Univ. Hosp. Sys. (2012 – Ohio 5896), a dispute arose over the extension of the statute of limitations in a prior claim for a low back injury. Here the claimant had first suffered an injury to his low back in 2001. The self-insured employer accepted this claim and paid for medical treatment through November 13, 2003. Then on September 13, 2008 the claimant experienced an injury to his mid and low back. Initially, the employer certified this incident as being a recurring injury under the 2001 claim. The employer initially paid for all medical services for the 2008 incident under the 2001 claim. The claimant successfully argued before the Industrial Commission that the 2008 incident was a new injury. Thereafter, the employer transferred the payments that had been initially paid under the 2001 claim to the 2008 claim.

The claimant filed an application for permanent partial compensation in the 2001 claim on April 19, 2010 and this filing was over six years after the last payment of the medical services under the 2001 claim. The employer objected to this application under this claim as it had statutorily expired per ORC 4123.52. The claimant’s application was granted by both a District Hearing Officer and Staff Hearing Officer in spite of the employer’s argument. The employer filed a request for reconsideration that was accepted by the full Industrial Commission. After hearing, the Industrial Commission ruled that the application under the 2001 claim could not be considered as this claim had lapsed by statute.

The claimant appealed the decision of the Industrial Commission to Common Pleas Court. After ruling on cross-motions for summary judgment the trial court held that that the 2001 claim had lapsed by statute and agreed with the reasoning of the Industrial Commission. The claimant’s argument was simple. Payment had been made under the 2001 claim after shortly after the 2008 incident and these payments were within the six-year statute of limitations thus extending the life of the 2001 claim. The employer’s argument was that these payments were transferred to the 2008 claim as the Industrial Commission had ruled it to be a new claim and these payments should only apply to the 2008 claim. The Court of Appeals agreed with the employer’s position. This court ruled that the last payment of medical services as a result of the 2001 injury was on November 13, 2003. Thus, the 2001 claim had lapsed by statute and there could be no further activity under this claim.

As one can see, the application of the statute of limitations can become complicated - even in the processing of an application for permanent partial compensation - normally a straightforward process.

Contact: Brian Tarian

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