December 21, 2017 Article

WC Board Appellate Division Holds That In-house Medical Treatment Can Serve to Toll Statute of Limitations Under the Current and Former Maine Workers’ Compensation Act

Maine Workers' Comp Alert

In Davis v. Boise Cascade, WCB App. Div. No. 17-41 (December 1, 2017), the issue on appeal was whether a 2001 amendment to 39-A MRSA § 306 applies to claims governed by 39 MRSA § 95 so as to alter what constitutes a payment of benefits for those claims, and, if so, whether the administrative law judge (ALJ) properly applied that amendment to this case.

For dates of injury prior to January 1, 1993, the statute of limitations (39 MRSA § 95) does not contain a provision tolling the time for filing claims in the event that in-house medical care was provided by an employer for a work injury. Effective January 1, 1993, as part of the enactment of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992, a new statute of limitations was passed (39-A MRSA § 306). In the new version of Title 39-A is a transition section stating that § 306 was to apply only to injuries on or after January 1, 1993, while dates of injury prior to that date were controlled by the analogous former Title 39. But in 2001, the Legislature amended § 306 to add a new paragraph (A) to subsection (2), tolling the statute of limitations when an injured worker received medical care from the employer’s in-house medical staff. Of note, the application provision of the 2001 amendment states that it “applies to all injuries and illnesses, regardless of when they occurred.” The ALJ found that the 2001 amendment to § 306 applies to the 1989 and 1990 injuries and found the medical treatment provided by NewPage’s in-house medical department had tolled the statute of limitation against Boise Cascade.

The Appellate Division affirmed, finding the ALJ’s interpretation of the amendment adding § 306(2)(A) as applying to all injuries regardless of when they occurred was a reasonable construction and involved no misconception of applicable law.

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