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A hospital security guard who filed a workers compensation claim four years after he was attacked by a psychiatric patient in the emergency room filed for injury benefits too late, the Supreme Court of Montana ruled Tuesday.
Brian Richardson had assisted filling out an incident report following the 2006 attack but failed to immediately include details that he had been hit in the nose, an injury he later told his supervisor about but was instructed that it was not necessary to amend the paperwork related to the incident “unless he was seeking medical treatment,” according to documents in Brian Richardson v. Indemnity Insurance Co. of North America, filed in Helena, Montana.
Mr. Richardson in the years that followed suffered chronic headaches and nasal obstruction. A doctor in 2008 confirmed that he has suffered a nasal fracture in the 2006 incident. He underwent surgery, which his primary insurance would not cover entirely. He then approached his supervisor about filing a comp claim, a request the supervisor told him was too late, according to documents.
In 2010, Mr. Richardson stopped working and subsequently filed a comp claim, which was denied due to “lack of notice and untimely filing,” documents state.
Mr. Richardson then filed a petition for hearing with the Workers' Compensation Court in 2013, arguing that he was entitled to acceptance of his claim. He moved for summary judgment on the issues of timely notice and timely claim filing under state law. Indemnity, the insurer, then filed a cross motion for summary judgment on the ground that, because Richardson had filed his First Report of Injury nearly four years after the alleged incident, Richardson had failed to file a claim for compensation within the 36-month period prescribed by state law.
The Workers' Compensation Court ruled in Indemnity’s favor, denying Mr. Richardson's motion regarding timely notice and filing, with “disputed issues of material fact” among the reasons, according to documents.
A District Court, on appeal, explained that the “daily activity report” filled out following the incident “was insufficient to be considered a claim” under state law and that Mr. Richardson filed his First Report of Injury after the statute's absolute deadline of thirty-six months from the date of the happening of the accident, according to documents.
The state’s highest court affirmed on those same grounds, stating that the four-year period between the attack and the filing of the comp claim resulted in Indemnity “properly” rejecting coverage for his claims that are “forever barred.”
The insurer and attorneys involved could not immediately be reached for comment.
Montana lawmakers are considering legislation that would add a tax to fireworks to fund workers compensation coverage for volunteer firefighters.