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Firefighter filed cancer claim late


A firefighter failed to properly file notice of his intent to pursue a workers compensation claim for his melanoma, a three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals, Division VI, unanimously held Thursday in Denver.

In Packard v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, the judges found that the firefighter’s claim for compensation was barred by the statute of limitations, and affirmed the decision of the Industrial Claim Appeals Office panel dismissing his claims.

In July 2013, Denver firefighter Joseph Packard was diagnosed with melanoma of the trunk, which he believed was caused by his work as a firefighter. The city filed its first report of the injury on Aug. 5, 2013, and notified Mr. Packard that it contested the claim, and that he had a right to file an application for an expedited hearing within 45 days, as well as file for workers compensation.

In May 2017, the firefighter’s physician stated in an opinion that she believed Mr. Packard’s melanoma met the medical requirements of the state’s firefighter presumption statute. He filed an application for a hearing in October 2017, but the city argued that his claim was time barred because he filed his application more than four years after learning of his melanoma and reporting it to the city.

An administrative law judge held that because Mr. Packard’s case had been assigned a claim number along with the city’s filing of the first report of injury and notice of contest that the city was no notice of the claim before the running of the statute of limitations. The panel, however, rejected this, holding that neither the first report of injury nor the notice of contest satisfied the claimant’s statutory obligation to file a “notice claiming compensation” and set aside the administrative judge’s decision. Mr. Packard appealed.

The appellate court, however, affirmed the panel decision. Colorado’s workers compensation statutes mandate that a claim for workers comp must be filed within two years of the alleged injury by failing a notice claiming compensation. Mr. Packard informed the city that there was a connection between his work as a firefighter and his cancer in 2013, and to comply with the statute of limitations, would have had to file his claim by 2015 — or 2016 if he could establish a reasonable excuse for a one-year extension — but because he did not file his application until 2017, his claim was barred, the appellate court held. Although he argued that the first report of injury satisfied his obligation to file a notice claiming compensation, the court disagreed, noting that none of the documents indicated Mr. Packard was claiming compensation.






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