Despite this representation, the employer did not file a workers’ compensation claimon Mrs. Schultz’s behalf. Once Mrs. Schultz realized that the employer was not going to fileher claim, she filed a pro se complaint that same day, October 1, 2003—some forty-five daysafter the one-year statute of limitations had run. Although it was filed late, Mrs. Schultz’scomplaint proceeded to an informal mediation at the Workers’ Compensation Administration(the WCA).
NMSA 1978, § 52-5-5(C) (1993) (describing that “every claim shall beevaluated by the director [of the WCA] or his designee, who shall then contact all parties andattempt to informally resolve the dispute”).
The mediator issued a recommended resolution on December 19, 2003,recommending that the complaint be dismissed without prejudice so that Mrs. Schultz couldretain legal counsel to assist her during settlement negotiations. According to the mediator,Mrs. Schultz could “immediately file an amended complaint with the accompanyingdocuments required by this Administration.” Neither party filed an acceptance or a rejectionof this resolution. The WCA generated a Notice of Completion on February 13, 2004.
After retaining legal counsel, Mrs. Schultz filed a second complaint with the WCAon June 18, 2004, which specifically requested modification of the first recommendedresolution because she had retained an attorney. A second mediation occurred, after whichthe employer rejected the mediator’s recommended resolution of settlement with Mrs.Schultz for a cash sum. After extensive discovery, the case proceeded to trial in 2007 beforea WCJ.
Following three days of trial, the WCJ entered findings of fact, conclusions of law,and a compensation order. The WCJ decided that Mrs. Schultz was not entitled to workers’compensation benefits on two grounds. The WCJ determined (1) that the statute of limitations barred Mrs. Schultz’s claim, and (2) even if the statute of limitations were not abar, her husband was not acting within the course and scope of his employment when hedied.
Mrs. Schultz appealed. The Court of Appeals initially dismissed her appeal asuntimely.
See Schultz v. Pojoaque Tribal Police Dep’t
, No. 28,508, slip op. at 2 (N.M. Ct.App. Sept. 23, 2008). We reversed and remanded for the Court of Appeals to decide themerits of her appeal.
Schultz ex rel. Schultz v. Pojoaque Tribal Police Dep’t
, 2010-NMSC-034, ¶ 1, 148 N.M. 692, 242 P.3d 259.
On remand, the Court of Appeals affirmed the WCJ’s decision, holding that thestatute of limitations barred Mrs. Schultz’s claim.
Schultz ex rel. Schultz v. Pojoaque TribalPolice Dep’t
, 2012-NMCA-015, ¶ 33, 269 P.3d 14. Finding this issue dispositive, the Courtof Appeals did not address whether her husband died within the course and scope of employment.
¶ 7. We granted certiorari,
Schultz v. Pojoaque Tribal Police Dep’t
, 2012-NMCERT-001, 291 P.3d 599, to determine how Section 52-1-36 impacts a workers’compensation claim once the statute of limitations has expired.