The Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a plaintiff does not need a permanent injury to reopen a claim.
Maria Jimenez worked for the Lakshmi Narayan Hospitality Group at a Holiday Inn in Louisville. She suffered injuries in August 2014 when she slipped and fell while cleaning a bathroom.
An administrative law judge awarded Jimenez temporary total disability benefits from August 2014 to April 2015. The ALJ also determined that Jimenez did not have a permanent injury and was not entitled to future medical benefits.
In July 2019, Jimenez filed a motion to reopen due to a change in disability after being diagnosed with cervical disc disease and depression. She also applied for the award of permanent partial disability benefits.
The ALJ granted the motion and the reopened claim was assigned to another ALJ, who found that Jimenez established a deterioration in her condition and was awarded permanent partial disability benefits and reasonable medical expenses.
The Workers̵7; Compensation Board reversed because the original ALJ had found that she did not sustain a permanent injury.
The Court of Appeals then reversed, ruling that Jimenez’s claim was not time-barred and that the board had misconstrued the state’s reopening of claims statute.
The Kentucky Supreme Court clarified in a Sept. 22 decision that state law allows for the reopening and review of any award or order when there is fraud, newly discovered evidence, a mistake or a change in disability. The court said Jimenez’s efforts to reopen her workers’ compensation claim because of a change in her disability are covered by the statute
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