Barkan Meizlish , May 13, 2015
The underlying principle of temporary total disability compensation is that the employee’s departure from the workplace must be causally related to the industrial injury for the employee to be eligible to receive that type of compensation. State ex rel. Rockewell Internatl. v. Indus. Comm., 40 Ohio St. 3d 44, 531 N.E.2d 678 (1998). As such, if a claimant is no longer employed for reasons unrelated to the industrial injury and has not reentered the workforce, he is not eligible for temporary total disability compensation. State ex rel. McCoy v. Dedicated Transport, Inc., 97 Ohio St.3d 25, 2002-Ohio-5303, 776 N.E.2d 51. However, just because a claimant has stopped working, does not mean that he or she has voluntarily abandoned his position.
Recently in State ex rel. Viking Forge Corp. v. Perry, Slip Opinion No. 2015-Ohio-968, a claimant was injured in September of 2008, placed on light duty in December of 2008, returned to full duty in February 2009, and fired in March of 2009, and allowed to recover temporary total compensation in April 2009. The claimant’s initial doctor returned him to full duty work in February 2009, but in April 2009, the claimant got a new doctor who placed him on restricted duty, and the claimant applied for a period of temporary total disability compensation. Id.
This request was awarded, but the employer challenged it. The Tenth District Court of Appeals concluded that the claimant had not voluntarily abandoned his employment and that the new doctor’s findings warranted a temporary total disability compensation award. This decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Ohio who ruled that the Industrial Commission passed the scrutiny required by law and properly evaluated the weight and credibility of the evidence presented.
The claimant testified that it was another employee who committed the infraction and that his doctor had recently noted changes in his condition. As such, even though the employee was terminated by his employer for allegedly violating rules and his previous doctor had returned him to full capacity, the Court awarded temporary total disability compensation.
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