When injured on the job, Missouri employees are entitled to compensation as they recover. But years after injury claims are settled, should a worker receive additional rounds of temporary disability benefits even after reaching maximum medical improvement? That’s a critical—and potentially costly—question before the Missouri Supreme Court as they begin to consider the facts of the case Greer vs. Sysco Food Services.
The Missouri Chamber Legal Foundation has filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that Missouri statutes and case law do not allow temporary disability claims to be awarded after the injury has been remedied to the greatest extent medically possible.
“Unfortunately, workplace accidents happen. However, Missouri law and past court decisions establish a framework for determining how injured employees should be compensated and when that compensation begins and ends,” said Brian Bunten, Missouri Chamber general counsel and director of governmental affairs. “This case provides the Missouri Supreme Court an opportunity to toss out an overreaching ruling of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission that gave employees the ability to seek additional payments for their old injuries even after they’ve hit the point of maximum medical improvement. The Missouri Chamber Legal Foundation urges the Supreme Court to uphold the decision of the appeals court and keep temporary disability payments as they should be—temporary.”
This specific case involves a foot and ankle injury sustained in a 2006 forklift accident. The worker was awarded temporary total disability benefits as he was treated for his injury. Once doctors determined the injury had improved as much as possible, the temporary total disability benefits ended and the worker was awarded continuing partial disability payments. But three years later, the employee opted to receive additional medical care, and the state’s Labor and Industrial Relations Commission went against established case law and chose to award the worker additional temporary total disability payments.
The worker in this case is also arguing that his foot and ankle injury left him totally disabled. The Missouri Chamber Legal Foundation disputes this claim out of concern that it could set dangerously low precedent, allowing workers to claim lifetime benefits when they retain the ability to work in many workplace settings.
“Missouri employers understand they have a legal and moral duty to their injured workers. Businesses have long worked through the state’s existing system—while imperfect—to ensure a fair resolution is reached,” said Bunten. “This case could make that resolution a thing of the past and fundamentally alter the concept of temporary disability. The Missouri Chamber Legal Foundation will ensure the business community is a part of the discussion as the Supreme Court begins deliberating this case.”