Worker’s Comp TTD Rules Still Apply When Employee Voluntarily Terminates Employment

Gordon v. Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Indiana, 53 N.E.3d 477 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016)
In November of 2007, William Gordon, an employee of Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Indiana, suffered a work-related injury that affected his shoulder and neck.  Thereafter, Toyota acknowledged Gordon’s injury and paid for certain medical services and supplies.  However, in 2008, a doctor for Toyota took Gordon off of work. 
In July of 2008, Toyota gave Gordon a light-duty job within his restrictions. Gordon testified that he attempted to return to work, but ultimately decided to voluntarily leave his employment with Toyota in August of 2008. 
The issue on appeal from the Board’s negative ruling was whether Gordon was entitled to Temporary Total Disability (“TTD”) payments after Toyota provided Gordon work within his restrictions. Gordon contended that, while Toyota offered him a job with restrictions, he was physically incapable to do that job because of his pain and disability.  Thus, his refusal to continue working for Toyota in 2008 was justified, and he was entitled to 121 weeks-worth of TTD benefits, not just the 31 weeks of benefits that he had been granted. 
In granting Gordon’s request for 121 weeks of TTD benefits, the Court of Appeals relied upon I.C.§ 22-3-2-11(b), which provides that, before compensation can be denied, the employee must be served with a notice setting forth the consequences of his refusal of employment under that section.  Notwithstanding Gordon’s voluntary termination of his employment, Toyota was still required to provide Gordon with the requisite notice before terminating benefits.  Therefore, Toyota could not deny the employee TTD benefits solely to the employee’s refusal to work within the restrictions given by his provider if the statutory notice was not given.

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