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Maxwell v. Sprint PCS: Workers’ Compensation Procedures

Maxwell v. Sprint PCS, an appeal from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, involved a claimant who suffered an on-the-job injury.  While she was working, she hurt her knee and had to receive immediate medical attention.

gavel-2-1409592-mShe did not return to work immediately, but she filled out a timely application for workers’ compensation, known in that state as a CC form.  She needed to get surgery to repair the damaged tendon in her injured knee, and her employer agreed her injury was work related and covered by workers’ compensation.  For this reason, they approved her initial claim.

At this point, she was claiming what is known as a temporary disability rating.  As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain during your initial consultation, there are different classifications that entitle you to different amounts of benefits based upon the facts relevant to your actual situation. Since every case is different, as the facts are never the same, you should speak with your attorney.  However, you will generally be given a rating of either full body or partial disability, and you would also be granted a status of either permanent or temporary disability.  Again, depending on the facts relevant to your situation.

After being on a status of temporarily disabled, she eventually reached a point of maximum medical improvement (MMI).  This means that doctors did all they could do to help a claimant make a full recovery, and a further improvement is not likely not matter what medical procedures are performed, so there is no point in spending anymore money or putting the patient through any additional pain and suffering.=

At this point, claimant was able to return to work, but she was having difficulty and filed an appeal of the finding of a partial permanent disability rating. A hearing was held at the workers’ compensation commission. The hearing did not go well for claimant, because the administrative law judge (ALJ) decided that she was able to go back to her pre-injury position, and her benefits should be deferred for every week she was back at work.  As one might expect, claimant appealed this decision.

This particular case went to the state supreme court, which ultimately decided that the statutory provision on which the ALJ relied to defer her already granted benefits was unconstitutional.  While this is a state law provision, the issue is not only relevant in the state in which this case took place.  There is a constant struggle for people who are disabled and want to return to work.  While they do not want to be out of work relying upon disability benefits (despite what many politicians like to claim), if going back to work will result in a loss of benefits, it is hard to try to work again when you are unsure if you are still able to do the job, even though you have a disability.

Things can be very complicated in this area of law, and you are best served by speaking with an experienced disability attorney before taking any steps that affect your right to a full and appropriate benefits award to compensate you for your workplace injury or work-related illness.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Maxwell v. Sprint PCS, April 12, 2016, Oklahoma Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

Increased Fines for Employers Who Do Not Maintain Workers’ Compensation Coverage, July 22, 2011