The Nevada Supreme Court published a decision that is favorable for injured workers this month in Williams v. United Parcel Services, 129 Nev. Adv.Op. 41 (6/6/13). Two years after his back injury claim was closed, Williams, a UPS employee, asked to reopen his claim for more medical care. His reopening request was denied because he hadn’t been given a PPD award , and he hadn’t been off work long enough to get temporary total disability benefits. (Injured workers aren’t entitled to TTD benefits unless they are taken off work by the treating doctor for 5 days in a row, or 5 days in a 20-day period )
A section of the reopening statute, NRS 616C.390(5) , states that an injured worker who is not off work as a result of the work injury, or who is not awarded a permanent partial disability (PPD) award when his claim is closed, cannot reopen his claim more than a year after the claim is closed. The actual language of the reopening statute says only that the injured worker must be off work as a result of the injury. However, this section of the law had always been interpreted by insurers, hearing officers and appeals officers to require that the injured worker show that he had had been off work long enough to receive benefits if the reopening request was made more than a year after claim closure.
Justice Nancy Saitta wrote in this recent published decision that there was nothing ambiguous about how the reopening law was written by the legislature. The plain meaning of the words "off work" meant that Williams only had to show that his doctor had taken him off work for the remainder of his shift due to his accident.
This decision will help more injured workers who seek to have their claims reopened more than a year after their claims are closed.