Should an employer continue to pay Workers’ Compensation Benefits even after an employee has fully recovered?

worker_shoes_shoes_work-1024x768Should an employer continue to pay for work-related injuries even after an employee has “fully recovered”? At issue is a decision that terminated an employee’s entitlement to certain benefits. After the employee suffered a work-related injury and received temporary total disability benefits, her former employer, The Walgreen Company, filed a motion to modify the judgment. This led to litigation and a subsequent appeal.

Former Walgreens employee Alyce Mouton, a resident of Metairie, Louisiana, was injured while performing her duties at Walgreen Drug Stores in that city. Initially, the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) of the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in her favor, awarding her temporary total disability benefits and ordering Walgreens to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment resulting from her workplace injuries. However, Walgreens later filed a motion to modify the judgment, alleging a change in Mouton’s condition and seeking to convert her benefits from temporary total disability to supplemental earnings benefits (SEBs). This dispute eventually led to an appeal when Mouton challenged the decision. See Mouton v. Walgreen Co.

In Louisiana, the workers’ compensation system is governed by specific laws designed to protect the rights of both employees and employers. One such statute is Louisiana Revised Statutes 23:1310.8. This statute grants the WCJ continuing power and jurisdiction over each case. It allows for modifying or amendment of prior findings or orders when such changes are warranted in the judge’s opinion. In addition, the statute allows for review of any award upon motion of a party, particularly in cases where there has been a change in circumstances. The WCJ may then enter an award that terminates, reduces, or increases the compensation previously awarded.

The Fifth Circuit courts have interpreted and applied this statute in various cases. See Numa C. Hero & Son v. Leleux. In essence, a party seeking modification of a workers’ compensation judgment must prove that it is more likely than not, by a preponderance of the evidence, that there has been a change in the employee’s disability status. The WCJ’s findings of fact are generally entitled to great weight and will be overturned on appeal only if found to be clearly erroneous.

After carefully reviewing the evidence and arguments presented by both parties, the appellate court ruled in favor of Walgreens. The court found that Walgreens had successfully met its burden of proving a change in Alyce Mouton’s condition that warranted a change in her benefits from temporary total disability to supplemental income benefits. The court carefully applied the relevant provisions of the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act to the specific facts of the case and ultimately affirmed the modification of the original judgment.

Navigating the workers’ compensation system can be challenging. It is essential to stay informed about workers’ compensation laws and seek the guidance of experienced legal professionals who can help protect your rights and interests. By understanding the intricacies of the law and working with skilled attorneys, individuals can effectively navigate these legal challenges and ensure a fair resolution. The workers’ compensation system is designed to provide support and financial assistance to those injured during their employment, and it is important to assert one’s rights and seek the compensation one deserves.


Written by Berniard Law Firm 

Other Berniard Law Firm Articles on Workers Compensation: Can An Independent Medical Examiner Determine Maximum Medical Improvement in a Worker’s Compensation Case? Understanding the Impact of Settlement on Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Louisiana

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