Hodges v. Federal Express Corporation
The purpose of the notice statute, Connecticut General Statutes §31-294c, is clear: to prevent a respondent from being prejudiced by a claim brought long after an injury has occurred and when it may be impractical to prepare a defense. The trial commissioner found the following facts. On April 25, 2005, Bryon Hodges, employed by Federal Express as a courier, lifted a bag of letters and felt a sharp pain in his back. He called the dispatcher, returned to the station and was driven to the hospital because he could barely walk. Hodges was admitted for five days and treated for a herniated disc. He underwent several surgeries. A claims specialist filed a first report of injury on April 27, 2005. On June 3, 2005, an attorney representing Hodges wrote to the Workers Compensation Commission and the employer's claims manager indicating that Hodges was represented by counsel and listing the employer, date, place and type of injury, and noting that future correspondence and voluntary agreements should be sent to counsel's office. The letter identified the claimant, the insured and the insured's claim number and sought certain records. The responding letter indicated that a Form 43 was filed on May 24, 2005 disclaiming the injury. The respondent employer and claims administrator later contended that the claim was time barred under C.G.S. §31-294c, because the claimant did not file a Form 30C within one year of the injury. Following a hearing, the trial commissioner concluded that the totality of the circumstances, including the transportation to the hospital, satisfied the exceptions to formal notice under C.G.S. §31-294c. The respondents appealed. The Compensation Review Board affirmed the decision. The record clearly reflected that the respondent was aware that the claimant had been injured while working and would be seeking benefits. Although the claimant did not file a timely Form 30C, C.G.S. §31-294c(a) does not mandate the use of only the official commission form to provide notice of a claim for benefits. The notice need only be in writing, sent to the respondent and commission and provide the necessary information required to identify the claimant, date, location and nature of the injury. Claimant's counsel's June 2005 correspondence met this statutory requirement.