Missouri Industrial Commission awards $200,000 for “companion care” to claimant’s spouse
WARNING…PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ARE SEATED AND PLEASE REFRAIN FROM HOLDING HOT COFFEE WHILE READING THIS UPDATE.
This decision was rendered by the Industrial Commission on July 3, 2018.
Claimant was involved in a single-vehicle accident in 2007 when the tractor trailer he was driving overturned. Claimant was not seriously injured in the accident, but was in the cab when he smelled diesel fuel. He kicked out the windshield, exited the vehicle, and then the cab was engulfed in flames. Claimant suffered relatively minor physical injuries but experienced emotional trauma due to escaping from the flaming cab and was diagnosed with PTSD.
Claimant returned to work for the employer for several months but then voluntary resigned his employment alleging that he was unable to deal with the stress of driving a truck.
In addition to alleging permanent total disability, Claimant also argued that he needed someone to manage his medication, doctors’ appointments, transportation and avoid going into crisis.
The Commission, in an opinion written by Chairman John Larson, concluded that the claimant’s spouse was entitled to compensation for services rendered related to managing claimant medication, doctors’ appointments, transportation, and helping claimant to avoid “going into crisis”.
For these services, and in addition to awarding permanent total disability benefits, the Commission determined that the claimant’s spouse was entitled to receive $16 per hour, 20 hours per day, for the 5 years prior to the hearing. Again, in addition to the award for permanent total disability, claimant was awarded an ADDITIONAL $208,000 for assistance given to him by his spouse.
I could write a book on this case alone….but I won’t. § 287.140.1 requires the employer/insurer to pay for all reasonably required medical care, including nursing care. I cannot imagine that the Missouri Legislature intended this provision to mean that the employer/insurer should be responsible to pay the spouse of a claimant for 20 hours per day for care related to managing his medication, doctors’ appointments, and transportation.
I am certain that this decision will be appealed to the Court of Appeals, as it deals with the legal interpretation of whether § 287.140.1 can be applied to non-medical assistance given by a spouse. If and when we receive an opinion from the Court of Appeals I will update you accordingly.
If you want to discuss how this decision might apply to any current cases, please feel free to call or email.