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.


Mental/Mental Claims – Police Cannot Generally Receive Benefits

The trend that police cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits for a purely psychological injury continues with the Commonwealth Court’s decision in Payes v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Commonwealth of PA/State Police), in which the Court held that because traumatic events are not out of the ordinary for police officers and, at times, attempts to save a life fail, they generally do not constitute an extraordinary event or abnormal working condition sufficient to entitle the officer to benefits for a psychological injury. In this case, a police officer's post-traumatic stress disorder and depression that resulted from an accident in which the officer struck and killed a woman were attributable to his striking and killing an apparently suicidal woman with his patrol car, were not the result of an actual extraordinary event or abnormal working condition. Thus, the claimant was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits for a mental/mental injury.


November 2010 Edition
Volume IV
Number 10
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Penalties Must Be Tied to a Wrongful Avoidable Act

Penalties should be tied to some discernible and avoidable wrongful conduct. Thus, when a claimant fails to notify the employer of a change in address, causing a delay in receipt of a Compromise & Release check because the employer mailed the check to claimant's last known address, penalties should not be imposed because the employer has not engaged in any "unreasonable or excessive delay" in violation of the Workers' Compensation Act. That’s the holding of the Commonwealth Court in Allegis Group and Broadspire v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Coughenaur).


Retirement – Claimants Must Demonstrate a True Intent to Remain in the Workforce

The Courts continue to require claimants to do more than they say to continue receiving benefits following a “retirement” or an election to receive pension benefits. Thus, in Day v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (City of Pittsburgh), the Commonwealth Court ruled that an employer is not obligated to prove the availability of suitable work when a claimant voluntarily removes himself from the labor market through retirement. When a claimant has voluntarily retired, however, the burden shifts to the claimant to show that either his work-related injury has forced him out of the entire workforce or that he is looking for work after retirement. Further, a finding that the receipt of a pension is evidence that a person has retired does not conflict with the legislative intent of Section 204(a) of the Workers' Compensation Act.


Make Sure You Obtain Completed LIBC-756 Forms Every 6 Months

That’s clearly the way the Courts are interpreting the Act. In Muir v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Visteon Systems LLC), the Commonwealth Court ruled that taking a retrospective offset is inappropriate when a three-year lapse of time occurred between the time the claimant began receiving Social Security old age benefits and the completion of the LIBC-756. The Court therefore affirmed that an employer must supply a claimant with a new LIBC-756 every six months to remind and require the claimant to update the reporting of benefits subject to an offset.


No Heart & Lung Act Benefits for Volunteer Fire Fighters

Volunteer fire fighters are not entitled to benefits under the Heart and Lung Act, 53 P.S. §§ 637-638, which explicitly and narrowly identifies seventeen categories of employees, but does not identify volunteers in any capacity as covered individuals. Moreover, Section 601(a)(1) of the Workers' Compensation Act, 77 P.S. § 1031(a)(1) does not render a volunteer fire fighter an employee for purposes of the Heart and Lung Act, according to the Commonwealth court in Soppick v. Borough of West Conshohocken.