Quebcor Book Company v. Mikletich, No. 2009-CA-001370-WC (Ky. Ct. App. 2010).  A work-related hearing loss does not become occupationally disabling unless and until an eight-percent (8%) whole person impairment becomes manifest and, therefore, until this threshold rating becomes manifest the two-year statute of limitations of KRS 342.185 does not begin to run.

In Mikletich, claimant’s employer conducted routine annual hearing tests. In 2008, Mikletich filed a claim for hearing loss.  Evidence established that in 2006, Mikletich’s hearing loss warranted a six percent (6%) impairment and in 2008 warranted a 23% rating.  Quebcor argued the 6% should be excluded from compensability because of the two year statute of limitations.  The ALJ, Workers’ Compensation Board and Court of Appeals disagreed, arguing the limitation period of KRS 342.185 and construing case law did not begin to run until the condition became occupationally disabling, i.e. justifying a whole person impairment of 8%.

COMMENT:  As the court observed, this case and others like it presented a unique circumstance.  The decision seems sound given the unique threshold requirements of KRS 342.7305(2) which, unlike other repetitive trauma claims, relies on a percentage of impairment to determine when occupational disability related to the hearing loss has become manifest.

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