eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – June 2022 – Virginia
June 28, 2022
SIGNIFICANT CASE SUMMARIES
VA CASE SUMMARY
Douglas v. Eastern Shore Rural Health
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
Decided: April 13, 2022
The statute of limitations did not bar a claim when Claimant previously filled out Part A only, and the carrier paid benefits.
Claimant filed a Claim for Benefits form which only included Part A of the claim form, and made no marks indicating what benefits she was seeking. The carrier nevertheless paid benefits pursuant to an Award Agreement. More than 2 years later, the Claimant filed another Claim for Benefits with Part B filled out, seeking three years’ worth of wage loss.
The carrier defended on grounds that the previous claim was insufficient, and the statute of limitations had run. The Deputy Commissioner found the previous claim was valid, and therefore the statute of limitations did not bar the subsequent claim. He acknowledged situations where the timely filing of Part A only was nevertheless insufficient to constitute a specific claim. In those cases, however, the defendants did not have adequate awareness that the Claimant was seeking such benefits. The Deputy Commissioner found that here, the carrier was on notice that the Claimant intended to seek wage loss benefits, as the carrier was paying benefits in response to the claim form sent by Claimant, and so the claim form she submitted was enough.
The Full Commission affirmed, finding that the submission of the initial claim form constituted a valid claim sufficient to toll the statute of limitations. Because the correspondence from the carrier including the information that the occupational accident was not covered until Claimant filed her claim form, and the carrier began to pay disability benefits shortly thereafter, the two were correlated and the latter could show intent and understanding of the former.
While the Commission ruled in favor of the Claimant, this case provides good discussion on the fact that an incomplete claim form may not be considered a claim, providing a statute of limitations defense.
Any questions regarding this case can be addressed to Mike Bliley, Esquire, at (571) 464-0435 or at email@example.com.