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.


Judges Can Reject Credible Testimony If It Doesn’t Establish Causation

A Workers’ Compensation Judge may reject a medical expert’s testimony for failure to credibly establish causation even if the Judge concludes that the opinions themselves are credible. That is the Commonwealth Court’ ruling in Campbell v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Pittsburgh Post Gazette).


September 2008 Edition
Volume II
Number 9
www.schaffyoung.com


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Violations of the Law are Felonies and Misdemeanors, Not Summary Convictions

Minor violations of the, such as traffic violations, are not a sufficient basis to deny benefits because of a violation of the law. In Bayada Nurses v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Gallagher), the Commonwealth Court ruled that a “violation of the law” has been interpreted to mean the commission of a felony or misdemeanor. Although a summary offense may constitute a violation of the law when it is a necessary element of a felony or misdemeanor conviction, where a Claimant was cited for several summary offenses, the evidence did not establish a “violation of law” under Section 301(a) of the Act.


Traveling Employees Can Work For More Than One Employer

Ruling on an issue of first impression, the Commonwealth Court has ruled in Jamison v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Gallagher Home Health Services), that a claimant need not work for a single employer in order to be considered a traveling employee. The inquiry should instead focus on what the claimant was doing at the time of the injury.


On a Termination, There Must Be a Change in Claimant’s Condition

In order to terminate a Claimant’s benefits, a WCJ must consider whether Claimant’s physical condition has changed materially since the date of the most recent prior decision. In this case, the Court remanded the case in order for the (second or subsequent) WCJ to make a factual finding whether claimant’s condition had changed after the date of the first (or most recent prior) decision by a WCJ. That is the Commonwealth Court’s ruling in Prebish v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (DPW/Western Center).


MMI Needed For an IRE

In another case of first impression, Combine v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp.), the Commonwealth Court has ruled that Section 306(a2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act requires a determination of maximum medical improvement (MMI) prior to calculating a claimant’s impairment rating.


Hearing Loss – The Claimant Must “Know”

Surmise or a guess will not do it. In Crompton Corp. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (King), the Commonwealth Court confirmed that a Claimant may not be charged with the knowledge of a compensable hearing loss unless and until he or she is so informed by a health care provider that there is a work-related hearing loss.


 


Pennsylvania Supreme Court News

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to rule upon the following issues:

• Whether a tort action filed by an employee against his employer is barred by the Workers’ Compensation Act’s exclusivity provision where the alleged work-related injury is not compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act since it was not discovered until more than three hundred weeks after the employee’s last occupational exposure.

(Pennsylvania Electric Co. v. Dodson)

• Did the Commonwealth Court commit an error of law in:

  1. Determining that a worker’s failure to report to an offered job because of her incarceration was an act of “bad faith,” which would then relieve the employer of the burden of showing job availability following any period of subsequent total disability experienced by the claimant?
  2. Holding that the injured worker was barred by collateral estoppel from arguing that the employer was, once again, required to show job availability following a period of total disability?

(Muretic v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Department of Labor and Industry)).