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Trucking company must pay for wife’s nursing services


A trucking company must pay for the nursing services provided by an injured worker’s wife, an appellate court judge held on Tuesday.

In Reynolds v. Wilcox Truck Line Inc., a judge in the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District in Kansas City, Missouri, affirmed a Labor and Industrial Relations Commission decision that awarded workers compensation benefits to a man who became disabled after a trucking accident.

Ronald Reynolds worked as a driver for Springfield, Missouri-based Wilcox Truck Line Inc. when in July 2007 when his tractor-trailer overturned and caught fire on the side of a freeway. Mr. Reynolds kicked out the windshield of his truck to escape the wreckage and suffered no physical injuries, but was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and in 2010 was rated as permanently and totally disabled as a result of his PTSD. He requested nursing services from Wilcox in 2011, which was denied, and his wife left her job to provide daily home care for Mr. Reynolds.

He sought workers compensation for his injuries, and an administrative law judge awarded him permanent and total disability related to his PTSD and depression but denied his request for past nursing services performed by his wife. The commission affirmed the disability award but awarded compensation for Ms. Reynolds’ nursing services.

Wilcox appealed the decision, but the appellate court judge affirmed the commission’s decision. Although the trucking company argued that Mr. Reynolds’ inability to operate a truck does not render him incapable of employment and contended that he has not sought work, the appellate court judge noted that a claimant does not need to be “completely inert or inactive” to qualify as permanently and total disabled, and found that the employer failed to consider the report of the vocational rehabilitation expert which said that he believed Mr. Reynolds was “totally vocationally disabled from employment.”

The judge also dismissed Wilcox’s argument that Mr. Reynolds’ wife’s assistance was “in the usual course of a marriage” and did not qualify as nursing services. The judge, however, held that the employer’s argument was “contrary to the commission’s factual findings” that the wife managed Mr. Reynolds’ medications and monitored his health for adverse drug reactions, communicated with caregivers, used guided imagery and deep breathing exercises to calm him after panic attacks, and counseled him through “symptoms of withdrawal and avoidance.” Therefore, the appellate judge held that the wife’s services met the definition of “nursing” and were compensable.





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