Workers' Comp In-Cites
Welcome to the latest edition of Schaff & Young's Workers' Comp In-Cites. Designed to provide our clients with practical insight, Workers' Comp In-Cites outlines recent developments in Pennsylvania workers' compensation law and explains how those decisions impact our clients and their cases. Barbara Young, Michael Schaff and the other attorneys at Schaff & Young, P.C. are always available to discuss these cases – or any other questions or concerns you might have. Just give us a call at (215) 988-0090 or send an email to info@schaffyoung.com. We look forward to hearing from you.


Job Availability – Claimants Must Show Real Effort

In The Pennsylvania State University v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Hensal), the Commonwealth Court ruled that, in order to prove that he or she is engaged in a good-faith job search, an injured worker must show that he or she applied or sent applications for employment or other indicia that he or she was actively applying for employment. Simply searching Internet and newspaper ads for jobs, without more, does not constitute a good faith job search.


June 2008 Edition
Volume II
Number 6
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Employers Don’t Have to Join Previous Employers When Defending a Claim Petition

That is the ruling in Pope & Talbot v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Pawlowski), in which the Commonwealth Court ruled that an employer defending a workers' compensation claim on the ground that the injury occurred while the claimant was employed elsewhere is not required to join the other employer before it can pursue this defense.


Keep Careful Records When Sending Notices of Modification (& Others)

While it seems obvious that good record-keeping is essential, in Wawa v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Seltzer), the Commonwealth Court made it abundantly clear. The Court held that a challenge to a Notification of Modification will be considered “timely” when the evidence establishes that the employer did not present (1) any direct proof of the place, time, or manner of the NOM, (2) any proof of its business custom for mailing the NOM; (3) evidence where the NOM was notarized (and such information could not be determined from the face of the NOM), (4) evidence of the date on which the NOM was received.


Pension Benefits – Issue the Notice of Offset Before Taking the Credit

In City of Philadelphia v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Andrews), the Commonwealth Court affirmed that self-help will not be countenanced. First, the Court affirmed that, under Section 204(a) of the Workers' Compensation Act, the benefits of a pension plan shall be credited against a claimant's worker's compensation award to the extent the benefits were funded by the employer directly liable for the payment of the compensation received by the employee. In addition, the Court emphasized that an award of penalties is proper if an employer fails to issue a Notice of Workers' Compensation Benefit Offset before unilaterally ceasing payment of a claimant's benefits based upon the claimant's receipt of pension benefits.

Kachinski Claims – Geography Matters

An employer does not meet its burden under Kachinski by failing to show that claimant has access to transportation to and from work, i.e., factors such as the geographic accessibility of a referred position are relevant under Kachinski. That is the Commonwealth Court’s holding in Pa. Dept. of Corrections v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Zvara).


Death Benefits for Work-Related Diseases Fall Under the 300 Week Limitation

In Brockway Pressed Metals v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Holben), the Commonwealth Court held that, when a worker suffers a work-related injury that is not a disease under the Occupational Disease Act, the "disease-as-injury" claim will be subject to the Section 301(c)(1) death manifestation requirements. Thus, if an original claim is granted, and the employee dies more than 300 weeks after the injury, a fatal claim petition will be barred.


Litigation Costs – Consider Accepting Liability in the Answer to the Claim Petition

Watson v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Special People in Northeast) may be a wake-up call to claimants and their attorneys who rush to file claim petitions. In the case, the Commonwealth Court held that when an employer admits in its Answer to a Claim that the Claimant suffered a work-related injury, and only disputes whether claimant was disabled, and claimant is unsuccessful in establishing disability, the claimant is not entitled to reimbursement of litigation expenses.