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Spouse of workers comp claimant entitled to payment for his care

Posted On: Dec. 12, 2012 12:00 AM CST

Spouse of workers comp claimant entitled to payment for his care

The wife of a man rendered a paraplegic as a result of a workplace accident is entitled to pay for providing care for her spouse, a New York appellate court ruled.

Thursday's decision in John D. Miller v. Joyful Farms et al. upholds a March 2011 New York State Workers' Compensation Board ruling that the claimant's spouse was entitled to compensation for nursing and home care services. The ruling stems from a 2006 accident for which the injured worker obtained workers comp benefits.

The injured worker also argued that his wife should be paid for providing needed care and a workers comp judge directed that she be paid $315 per week, according to the ruling. Upon review, New York's comp board increased the amount to $500 per week.

The employer and a workers comp insurer appealed, although the ruling by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, 3rd Department did not name the insurer.

But the appellate court sided with the claimant, finding that the board properly determined the spouse should be compensated. The court also said the board could rely on prevailing health cost data to determine the spouse's pay, particularly because the employer failed to submit evidence countering that data.

“The employer is responsible for claimant's medical care and treatment, including nursing and home care services,” the appellate court determined in its affirmation of the board's ruling. “Substantial evidence in the record supports the Board's finding that claimant's wife in fact provides such services in addition to tasks she previously performed around their home. Indeed, she now devotes significant portions of her time to caring for claimant including, among other things, maneuvering him in and out of bed, assisting him with his personal hygiene, obtaining and administering his medication, and exercising his legs and feet.”