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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Basis for workers' compensation award


Basis for workers' compensation award
Scofield v City of Beacon Police Dept., 290 A.D.2d 845

A police officer is awarded a "scheduled loss" by the Workers' Compensation Board. As the Scofield decision demonstrates, under certain circumstances the employer may be entitled receive all or a portion of the award granted to the police officer in consideration of the salary payments it made to the officer as a result of his or her injury.

City of Beacon police officer Glenn Scofield suffered a work-related injury to his left knee. A year later he injured the same knee at work. In both instances he was "paid his regular wages pursuant to Section 207-c of the General Municipal Law" [GML].

The two relevant statutes in Schofield's case: GML Section 207-c and Section 30 of the Workers' Compensation Law [WCL].

GML Section 207-c provides for the continuation of a police officer who is injured in the line of duty on the payroll at full salary. WCL Section 30 provides that "(3) ... any salary or wages paid to, or the cost of any medical treatment or hospital care provided ... pursuant to [GML Section 207-c] shall be credited against any award of compensation ... under this chapter."

This provision, said the court, was added to the WCL to avoid any duplication of benefits paid to an injured police officer, as the combined total of GML and WCB benefits might exceed the salary the officer would have received for the period had the injury not occurred.

Following the second injury, the Workers' Compensation Board granted Schofield a 15% schedule "loss of use award" for the injury to his left leg. Beacon, citing WCL Section 30, asked for reimbursement from Schofield's schedule award for the compensation it had paid to Schofield after both injuries.

Although the award was based on Schofield's physician's opinion that his second injury "was caused entirely by the first injury," Schofield argued that Beacon's right to reimbursement from the award was limited solely to the wages Beacon paid to him prior to his second injury.

The Workers' Compensation Board disagreed. It said that the second injury was a consequence of the initial injury, not a new injury, and therefore, the two files should be combined. As a result, Beacon was held entitled to Section 30 reimbursement for all the wages it paid to Schofield "on the combined files."

The Appellate Division affirmed the Board's determination since "[w]hether a second injury is a consequence of an earlier one is a factual issue for the Board to resolve."

The court said that while a finding of consequentiality does not necessarily resolve the issue of reimbursability, "where, as here, both injuries were directly related to the impairment upon which the schedule award was based, full reimbursement is appropriate."

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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