OF JUDGMENT: 07/17/2018
MISSISSIPPI WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: JOEL W. HOWELL III
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: WILLIAM BIENVILLE SKIPPER
J. WILSON, P.J., GREENLEE AND McCARTY, JJ.
In this appeal we must decide whether the Mississippi
Workers' Compensation Commission erred when it found that
Jimmy and Sandra McInturff's compensation claims were
time-barred. Because the McInturffs filed their claims after
the two-year statute of limitations had run, and no
exceptions applied to toll the statute, we affirm the
Jimmy and Sandra were a husband and wife truck-driving team.
On June 17, 2013, the couple was involved in a motor-vehicle
accident in Florida while on the job for Yellow Roadway
Corporation. The McInturffs went to a local hospital in
Florida where they were examined and given a work-status note
removing them from work for three days. The work-status note
specified that the McInturffs could "resume normal
work" on June 20, 2013.
Following the accident, Yellow Roadway paid workers'
compensation medical expenses for the McInturffs' various
doctor appointments, tests, physical-therapy sessions, and
prescription medications for neck pain, back pain, and
stiffness relating to the accident. The McInturffs were not
paid any disability benefits apart from the medical expenses.
At some point in February or March 2016, the McInturffs
inquired about disability benefits for time missed from work
due to the accident. They were subsequently advised that the
medical visits and diagnostic scans that had already been
authorized would be covered but that the statute of
limitations had expired on their claims.
On April 29, 2016, Jimmy and Sandra both filed individual
petitions to controvert. Their claims were consolidated for
discovery and hearing purposes. Yellow Roadway filed a motion
to dismiss, arguing that the McInturffs' claims were
barred by the statute of limitations. A hearing on the motion
to dismiss was held before the Administrative Judge (AJ).
Before the hearing, the McInturffs and Yellow Roadway
stipulated that (1) the McInturffs suffered work-related
injuries, (2) no workers' compensation disability
benefits were paid to the McInturffs, (3) medical expenses
under workers' compensation were paid to the McInturffs,
and (4) Yellow Roadway filed the first report of injury on
February 26, 2016.
At the hearing, the McInturffs testified that after the
accident, they requested disability benefits. They allege
their supervisor, Bill Willis, told them to take vacation and
sick days until they felt better. As such, the McInturffs
argue that they relied on Willis's instruction and did
not apply for disability benefits. They testified that they
were unable to work on numerous days following the accident
due to pain, medical appointments, or taking medication that
was contraindicated while driving. The McInturffs argue that
the vacation and sick days they were paid were "wages in
lieu of compensation."
Charles Eggins, a line-haul manager for Yellow Roadway,
testified that in March 2016 Jimmy asked why he was not
receiving workers' compensation disability benefits
instead of having to take sick and vacation days. Eggins
stated that this was the first time the McInturffs had
inquired about disability benefits. He investigated the claim
with the workers' compensation adjuster and confirmed
that no disability benefits had been paid to the McInturffs
other than medical expenses. Additionally, Eggins spoke with
Willis, who denied that he had instructed the McInturffs to
take sick and vacation days instead of applying for
disability benefits. On March 17, 2016, the McInturffs
received a letter from the workers' compensation carrier
stating they were not entitled to any workers'
compensation benefits after June 17, 2015-two years from the
date of the accident.
The AJ found that the statute of limitations had run on the
McInturffs' workers' compensation claims.
Additionally, the AJ found that Yellow Roadway had not paid
the McInturffs wages in lieu of compensation and that
estoppel did not apply. The McInturffs appealed to the
Commission, which affirmed and adopted the AJ's ...