MO Court of Appeals awards claimant’s spouse $208,000 for taking care of her injured husband
Missouri Workers Compensation Legal Update
Reynolds v. Wilcox was one of the last decisions from the prior Industrial Commission. Here, the Commission awarded $208,000 to the claimant’s wife for her assistance with managing the claimant’s medications, providing “emotional support”, and communicating with care givers.
On September 17, 2019, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the prior Commission ( read the entire decision HERE). Judge Lisa Hardwick, writing for the court, said the 2005 amendments didn’t provide a new definition of “nursing,” nor did they throw out the prior cases permitting spouses to recover for rendering such services. Nothing requires the person providing such services to have a license or formal education, she added.
If you have a case that might proceed to trial and the claimant’s spouse is requesting compensation for “nursing services”, make sure that you have expert testimony stating that the services provided by the spouse may be beneficial but do not qualify as “nursing services”.
Even though this decision is bad precedent, I don’t believe it will “open the flood gates”. As stated above, it was the prior Commission that rendered the underlying award, not the current Commission. In light of the personnel changes at the Industrial Commission over the past 2 years, I don’t foresee this becoming a common method of recovery.
If you want to discuss how this decision might affect any of your current claims, please let me know.