Friday, July 6, 2012

Court of Appeal Vindicates Injured Workers' Right to Temporary Disability

In Meeks Building Center et al. v. WCAB and Salem Najjar (June 26, 2012, C065944; WCAB No. ADJ4255212), the Third District Court of Appeal vindicated an injured worker's rights after his employer tried to use a legal technicality to cut off his temporary disability prematurely. After Salem Najjar was injured on the job, his employer sent him to a qualified medical evaluation to learn more about his injuries.  He saw the doctor on September 11, 2007 and received $64.71 for the wages he lost that day.

Najjar continued working.  Then, on March 17, 2009, the doctor determined he was temporarily disabled and needed to be off work.  As a result, he started getting temporary disability payments so he could recover.  Under the Labor Code, injured workers can receive up to two years of temporary disability payments if necessary.  However, on September 8, 2009, the employer cut off his temporary disability payments.  They claimed the two years started running when they sent him to the doctor in 2007, even though he only got one's days wages. 

Mastagni Law partner John Holstedt fought for Najjar in the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board and the Third District Court of Appeal.  Both bodies found for Najjar, deciding the one day's payment in 2007 did not start the clock on temporary disability.  Instead, the Court of Appeal noted the one day payment was "not a payment of temporary disability benefits, but a reimbursement of a medical-legal expense."  Accordingly, the Court of Appeal affirmed the ruling at WCAB and upheld Najjar's right to receive full temporary disability payments while he was off work recovering from his injury.