Idaho—Statute of Limitation for Claims Against the Industrial Special Indemnity Fund
On February 17, 2021, the Supreme Court of Idaho ruled, in Stanley v. State of Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund, that an employee’s claim against the Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF) was not subject to the statute of limitations set forth in Idaho statute 72-706(2) and (3). The statute provides that an employee has five years from the date of the injury to file a petition for a hearing with the commissioner when compensation has been discontinued. And, if income benefits have been paid and discontinued, the employee has one year from the date of the last payment of discontinued benefits to file the petition with the commissioner.
In this case, an injured employee filed a claim with the ISIF more than five years after the date of his industrial accident and more than one year after the claims against his employer and workers compensation insurer settled. The ISIF rejected the claim on the ground that it was barred by the five year and one year statute of limitations set forth in 72-706 (2) and (3), respectively. In its ruling, the supreme court disagreed with the ISIF’s contention that the claim was time barred, reasoning that the statute contains no reference to the ISIF and instead explicitly names “the employer,” “the surety,” and “the Commission.” Therefore, the court held, 72-706 is plain on its face and does not apply to claims against the ISIF.
Kentucky—Interest Rate on Income Benefits
On February 18, 2021, the Supreme Court of Kentucky ruled, in Martin v. Warrior Coal LLC, that the 6% interest rate on disability benefit awards, provided for in Kentucky statute KRS 342.040, applies to all portions of any income benefits due and unpaid to a claimant who suffered a compensable injury prior to the 2017 amendment to KRS 342.040, which reduced it from 12% to 6%.
In its decision, the court addressed whether applying the 6% interest rate to outstanding claims prior to the statute’s 2017 amendment was an impermissible retroactive application under Kentucky statute KRS 446.080(3), which provides that no statute will be retroactively construed unless expressly so declared. The court noted that generally, an amended statute will not be applied retroactively to events that occurred prior to the effective date; however, a statute does not apply retroactively by reason of being applied to a case that is pending before its enactment.
The court also relied on uncodified legislative notes, which provided that the 2017 amendment to KRS 342.040 will apply to all workers compensation orders entered or settlements approved on or after the effective date of the amendment. The court reasoned that, through the language in the legislative notes, the legislature made clear that the date of the award or the settlement is controlling, even though the award may encompass events that occur before the statute was amended and made effective.
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