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Reasonableness of Commute to Jobs Considered in Determining Disability
Description Injury suffered by resident of rural community meant that nearest employment would be over 60 miles away. Colorado high court held that, especially because the disability made driving difficult, the claimant could be held totally disabled.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Workers' Compensation, Permanent Total Disability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bymer worked in a rural town in northeastern Colorado, when she suffered a permanent injury to her left hand. The workers' compensation judge held that the nearest community where she could find work would be Greeley, over 60 miles away. Because of her injury, driving such a distance was not practical, hence she was entitled to permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. The insurer contested the finding, contending that the proper test for PTD benefits is whether the claimant could work in any labor market.
Court of Appeals Decision Affirmed. To determine "eligibility for PTD benefits, it is appropriate to consider various, well-settled human factors related to the claimant's ability to earn wages. These factors may include consideration of the claimant's commutable labor market or other analogous concept which depends upon the existence of employment that is reasonably available to the claimant under his or her particular circumstanced."
Citation Weld County School District RE-12 v. Bymer, 1998 WL 112856 (Sup. Ct., Colo.)
955 P.2d 550 (Sup. Ct., Colo., 1998)

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