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Levy & Levy

Florida Workers’ Compensation Digest:

In Clayton v. Lakeland Police Department, OJCC Case #13-16219MES, D/A 10/30/12, Judge Sojourner on 1/27/14 awarded IBs for a 10% PIR. The claimant had a previous atrial fibrillation disability in 2006 and received benefits under that date of accident. The claimant was again hospitalized for atrial fibrillation on 10/30/12, for which the E/C paid under the 2006 date of accident. The JCC held that for occupational diseases the date of disability determines the date of the accident. Each period of disablement results in a new date of accident. See Orange County Fire Rescue v. Jones, 959 So.2d 785 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007). Therefore, the new 10/30/12 disability was a new date of accident. There was a medical conflict between the claimant’s medical opinion of a 40% rating and the E/C’s medical opinion of a 10% rating. According to the Florida impairment guidelines, the claimant’s range was appropriate where the claimant has marked physical limitations, and the E/C’s where there are no resulting limitations. Both medical opinions had the claimant on no work status. Therefore, the JCC resolved the conflict for the E/C’s 10% opinion. The JCC allowed a credit for the IBs already paid under the 2006 accident. Comment: Creating a new date of accident for each new period of disability 1) minimizes the strength of a statute of limitations defense, and 2) maximizes litigation exposure in occupational disease cases.