Can I Claim Permanent Disability If I Return to Work ?

Since 1977, our Supreme Court has held that a worker who suffered an actual injury resulting in permanent partial disability could maintain a claim for the disability even if the worker returned to work within a week. Gillig v. Cities Service Gas Co., 222 Kan. 369, 371, 564 P.2d 548 (1977). The clear purpose of 44-501(c) was to protect employers from trivial and inconsequential claims, not to bar workers who suffered injuries which resulted in permanent partial disability. Alexander v. Chrysler Motor Parts Corp., 167 Kan. 711, Syl. P 4, 207 P.2d 1179 (1949). Then, in 1995, in Boucher v. Peerless Products, Inc., 21 Kan. App. 2d 977, 911 P.2d 198 (1996), rev. denied 260 Kan. 991 (1996), a panel of the Court of Appeals interpreted 44-501(c) in the light of a 1975 amendment which added a medical compensation provision, along with a 1987 amendment which mandated impartial application of the Workers Compensation Act. Holding the statute was unambiguous and should be given its ordinary meaning, the panel reversed an award where the claimant did not miss any work because of his injury. 21 Kan. App. 2d at 978-81, 983. Our Supreme Court recently reached a similar conclusion in Matney v. Matney Chiropractic Clinic, P.A., 268 Kan (where injury does not disable employee for period of at least 1 week from earning full wages at work at which employee is employed, employer liable only for medical expenses incurred by employee) where the claimant had decreased the number of hours he had worked but drew the same salary.