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Worker’s Comp – No Double Dipping Allowed

Can an injured employee settle a Worker’s Compensation Claim and then later sue his employer, claiming that the injury occurred outside the employment?  The Indiana Court of Appeals recently said “no”.  In recent case Estate of Donald Eugene Smith v. Joshua Stutzman d/b/a Keystone Builders, the Appellate Court held that once an injured employee accepts compensation under the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act, the employee is conceding the injury was accidental and in their course of employment.  Thus, the employee cannot later claim they were not an employee when injured and seek further damages.  Once the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board approves an agreement, the claim becomes an Award and the facts adjudicated.  The Appellate Court also reiterated the long-held precedent that the Act’s exclusivity provision bars a Court from hearing any common law action brought by an employee for the same injury.

For more information concerning worker’s compensation issues, please contact Stephen S. Lavallo, a member of the firm’s Worker’s Compensation Defense Team