Appellate Commission ruling on attendant care

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Does the legal doctrine of res judicata bar a plaintiff from seeking additional attendant care hours after a final decision by a magistrate?

We noticed an interesting Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission opinion regarding attendant care. It focused on whether a plaintiff could seek an increase in hours or pay after a final decision from a magistrate. Defendant argued that any claim was barred by res judicata, a legal doctrine that says an issue cannot be reopened once it has been judged on the merits.

By way of background: Attendant care is supposed to help with activities of daily living. Some examples include wound care, assistance with walking, bathing, using the bathroom, eating, dressing, and taking medications. It does not cover ordinary household tasks like taking out the trash or walking a dog. The cost of a professional nurse or skilled attendant must be paid by the insurance company.

Family members can be paid up to 56 hours per week for providing attendant care. A spouse, brother, sister, child, parent or any combination of these individuals can receive payment. A family member is generally entitled to the same hourly rate as a professional.

Disputes often arise regarding the amount of attendant care that is needed and how much should be paid. Insurance companies fight these claims because of the enormous expense that can occur. We have seen some cases where attendant care is actually more than wage loss benefits.

The Appellate Commission in Head v. Chrysler Group LLC (2015 ACO # 1) reiterated that res judicata applies to workers’ compensation cases. It ultimately rejected defendant’s argument finding that plaintiff only has to show attendant care is reasonable when it is needed. While plaintiff did not offer proofs at the original hearing to justify the amount of attendant care, the magistrate did recognize plaintiff’s statutory right to such benefits. Based upon the evidence presented, it was found an increase in hours and pay would be supported. You can read the full decision here.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

Hourly Rate For Attendant Care

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Bill David Brooks.

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Author Bio Jeffrey Kaufman

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Jeffrey E. Kaufman
Michigan Workers Comp Attorney

Jeffrey E. Kaufman has extensive experience in workers compensation cases and has recovered millions of dollars in benefits for his clients. He believes all injured workers deserve to be on equal footing with insurance companies and employers, and fights tenaciously so their rights are secured and protected.


“Jeff also helped me with getting my Blue Cross bills paid. I would absolutely recommend him and the whole firm. Jeff and the firm did everything they were supposed to do for me and my case.”
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Our attorneys post regularly about common issues related to workers’ comp, including common injuries, settlement calculations, laws, and more.

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