Court Decides Question of First Impression in Workers’ Comp Case

The Court of Civil appeals decided the following question of first impression in Burton & Assoc, Ltd. v. Morris, No. 2060802  (Ala. Civ. App. Nov. 30, 2007):  “when two states both have grounds for asserting jurisdiction over a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, do payments of compensation made to the injured worker under the laws of one of the states toll the statute of limitations as to a claim later filed in the other state?”

The Court found that section 25-5-80 of the Workers’ Compensation Act was ambiguous and held that the limitations provision does not “absolutely preclude[] the receipt of out-of-state benefits from ever tolling the Alabama statute of limitations."  Once an employer makes a preliminary showing that the plaintiff’s claim was made more than two years after the date of the accident, the burden shifts to the employee who must prove that the employer did something that tolled the statute of limitations on the employee’s claim for Alabama benefits.