In Scott v. Chrysler.2013 ACO 71, the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission provides a current and relevant analysis of the meaning and import of the principle in workers’ compensation law that a claimant must prove his or her work-related injury, however valid, is the true cause of the reason for wage loss, i.e., the reason that he or she is no longer able to earn wages.
In this case, the plaintiff suffered from work-related carpal tunnel syndrome. She underwent surgery and was placed on job restrictions. However, she continued to work for defendant until she was offered a retirement buyout, which she accepted. She did not look for work after accepting the retirement package.
The plaintiff sought workers’ compensation benefits for her work-related carpal tunnel syndrome. After addressing proofs presented by both sides, the magistrate concluded the true reason plaintiff was no longer earning wages was because she accepted a buyout (in short, she quit working after accepting her retirement package). There was no evidence plaintiff looked for work after this date.
The Commission affirmed on plaintiff’s appeal. The Commission reiterates the Supreme Court’s decision in Haske v. Transport Leasing, Inc., Indiana, 455 Mich. 628 (1977) held that a workers’ compensation claimant is required by MCL 418.301(1) to prove she suffered actual wage loss after a work injury and that the work injury caused the subsequent wage loss. The Commission points out the various standards for proving disability and wage loss that have been modified and clarified since Haske did nothing to do away with this prima facie requirement of proof.
The Appeals and Legal Research Group at Lacey & Jones, LLP handled the appeal of this matter. The firm’s workers’ compensation litigation department handled the proceedings below.
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