In a case I brought to the Michigan Supreme Court on application from a Court of Appeals denial and Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission decision, the Court agrees with my argument the Commission did not address whether the claimant’s wage loss was attributable to her work-related injury, or rather due to her acceptance of a retirement / severance package.
MCL 418.301(4) of the Workers Disability Compensation Act requires in order for an individual to be entitled to wage loss benefits, the disability occasioned by the work-related injury must be the true cause of the wage loss, not some other reason wholly (or even partially) unrelated to the work.
This stems from the underlying principles behind workers compensation “wage loss” benefits. Employers are only responsible to the extent the employee is unable to earn wages due to the injury and not for other reasons beyond the employer’s control. Thus, downturns in the economy, a worker’s choice to do something else for less pay, or to move to a geographical location with less opportunities, seasonal employment situations, etc., all are situations over which employers do not have control. Therefore, employers are not responsible for the wage loss benefits for such circumstances.
This remand by the Michigan Supreme Court confirms that in those cases where the facts support the legal argument, it must be considered whether the employer is truly responsible for all, or even a portion of the claimed “wage loss”.
Read the Supreme Court’s order here: Williamson v. GM
If anyone has questions regarding this decision, or the wage loss principle in general, please contact Carson J. Tucker, JD, MSEL at (734) 218-3605.
Published by Carson J Tucker, JD MSEL
Owner of law firm since July 2014; Handles all types of appellate matters and assists other lawyers with complex litigation and insurance coverage issues; Admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the State Bar of Michigan; Expertise in prosecuting and defending appeals with several significant successes in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals; Author of briefs amicus curiae in the Michigan Supreme Court for the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel and the Insurance Institute of Michigan; Represents Insurance Companies, Major International Business, Governmental Entities, Law Enforcement Officers and County Sheriffs.
Board of Directors, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel
Amicus Committee Co-Chair, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel
Military - Retired Major in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps of the United States Army, Brigade Judge Advocate and Staff JAG officer for the Maneuver Training Center, Camp Grayling, Michigan; Recipient of the Army's Meritorious Service Medal (the highest medal of honor available to Soldiers serving in non-combat roles); 2012 Graduate of the Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course, at The Judge Advocate Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, Virginia.
United States Navy Reserves, Combat Warfare Qualification, January 1989 to July 2003
Former law clerk to Justice Stephen J. Markman, Michigan Supreme Court, Research Attorney, Michigan Court of Appeals. Insurance Coverage Associate Plunkett Cooney; Environmental Law Attorney at Squire Sanders, now Squire Patton Boggs; Master's Degree in Environmental Law; Environmental Law Scholar, ALI/ABA Washington, D.C., Juris Doctorate, Vermont Law School, Environmental Editor, Vermont Law Review; Treasurer and Finalist, Moot Court Advisory Board.
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