Iowa Supreme Court Holds Discovery Rule Applies to Singular and Cumulative Injuries in Workers’ Compensation

Posted on: December 23rd, 2015

Plaintiff sustained a back injury at work on May 23, 2010.  On May 23, 2012, his employer notified him it would no longer pay for his medical care as the two-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation benefits had expired.  Plaintiff filed two petitions with the Workers’ Compensation Commission – one alleging an injury on May 23, 2010, and the other alleging a cumulative injury arising on June 19, 2012.  The petitions were consolidated and the deputy commissioner found that he had not sustained a cumulative injury and he knew or should have known his condition was serious before June 20, 2010.  The deputy concluded the discovery rule only applied to cumulative injuries.  Plaintiff appealed and the district court reversed the commissioner’s ruling, holding that the discovery rule can apply to injury claims arising from singular events.  The employer then appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court, which affirmed, holding that the discovery rule applies regardless of whether a work-related injury arises cumulatively because of repetitive trauma or from a singular traumatic event.  The case was remanded to the commissioner for Plaintiff to prove a factual basis for applying the discovery rule.

Baker v. Bridgestone/Firestone and Old Republic Insurance, No. 14-2062 (Iowa Dec. 18, 2015).

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