SW Legal studies in Business

Statute of Limitations Runs from Time Injury Discovered
Description Iowa high court held that when a worker contracts a disease at work, but does not discover it for several years, the time requirement to file a workers' compensation claim begins to run from when the disease is discovered, not when it was contracted.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Workers' Compensation; Statute of Limitations
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts In 1990, when assisting a patient at a health-care facility, Perkins was sprayed in the face with the patient's blood. Her employer recommended she be tested to make sure she did not contract Hepatitis C from the patient. She tested negative a week later and was not tested for another five years before she was going to have surgery. At that time, she tested positive. She filed for workers' compensation. Her claim was barred by the one-year statute of limitations. She appealed the Industrial Commissioner's decision. The district court and appeals court held in her favor; her employer appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Perkins' exposure to hepatitis C did not trigger a duty on her part to do more. The statute of limitations begins to toll once the injury was discovered. She had no indication before the disease was discovered that there was a problem, as she did not suffer symptoms that might have alerted her to a problem.

Citation Perkins v. HEA of Iowa, Inc., 651 N.W.2d 40 (Sup. Ct., Iowa, 2002)

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