Temporary Total Eligibility Clarified
State, ex rel. Schack v. Indus. Comm. (2001), 93 Ohio St.3d 247.
State ex rel. Wagers v. Indus. Comm. (2001), 93 Ohio St.3d 218.
Issue: Does an injured worker retain eligibility for temporary total compensation when their condition becomes temporarily and totally disabling while they are working at a different job than the one they held when injured?
Background: Both of these cases involve injured workers who suffered an injury and then quit the employment they had been doing when they were injured. Both injured workers were working at other jobs when they suffered an additional period of temporary total disability.
The Industrial Commission denied both injured workers temporary total based on the “abandonment doctrine.” Under the abandonment doctrine, an injured worker lost eligibility for temporary total when they left the job they did when injured. After the Commission’s denials, the Ohio Supreme Court clarified the abandonment doctrine in State, ex rel. Baker v. Indus. Comm. (2000), 89 Ohio St.3d 376.
The injured workers in these cases left their employment for different reasons than the injured worker in Baker. That injured worker had left to take other employment. By contrast, the injured worker in Schack left as part of a negotiated settlement of a law suit, and the injured worker in Wagers left because he retired. Both injured workers then obtained other work.
Decision: The Supreme Court found both injured workers entitled to temporary total. The Court makes it clear that abandonment only bars temporary total if the injured worker has abandoned the total job market. Because these injured workers had not abandoned the job market, they did not lose temporary total eligibility.
Editor’s Comment: These decisions explain that the correct focus for temporary total eligibility is the disabling effect of the injury, rather than the reason for leaving a job.