The doctrine of Laches was not applied in a case where the employer was given notice of injury

This is a decision of the Court of Appeal certified for publication

This is a very significant case for workers’ compensation principles.

The applicant was a restaurant manager. One day at work rain was coming into the restaurant where the applicant worked. The applicant went outside with a ladder to inspect the area. A few minutes later the applicant was found unconscious next to the ladder outside.

The applicant suffered a brain hemorrhage and was paralyzed from the shoulders down. After the accident the applicant continued to receive 24 hour medical attention.

The applicant’s wife informed the employer the next day of the injury. The employer denied getting this phone call. At a hearing the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) found the testimony of the wife more credible than the employer and that notice was given the next day.

The employer never provided a claim form or a notice of potential eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits to the applicant. The applicant did not file a claim for 7 years.

The defendant raised the doctrine of laches as a defense to paying benefits. The WCJ found that the employee was never given notice of the right to benefits so the limitations period for filing a claim was tolled. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) agreed with the WCJ.

Here there was an absence of delay so laches did not apply.

Case: Truck Insurance v. WCAB

Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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