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.


Statutory Employer: Master-Servant Relationship Must Exist

Before a contractor may be considered the statutory employer of another contractor’s employees, the five elements in the McDonald v. Levinson Steel Co. test must be met; in particular, a master-servant relationship must exist, according to the Superior court in Patton v. Worthington Associates, Inc. Further, because an independent contractor can never be a statutory employer, the elements of the McDonald test cannot be met when a “contractor” is an independent contractor. Finally, a trial court does not abuse its discretion by submitting the question of determining an employee’s status to the jury.


April 2012 Edition
Volume VI
Number 4
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The Supreme Court Attempts to Define “Compensation”

This is a decision that will confuse more than it will clarify. In Giant Eagle, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Givner), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the term “compensation,” as used in Section 314(a) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, does not per se include medical benefits as well as wage loss benefits. Rather, the majority held that the General Assembly did not intend that “compensation” under Section 314(a) must always be restricted to wage loss benefits because Article III of the Act does not restrict “compensation” to wage loss benefits in all cases. However, neither does Article III always use the term “compensation” to include medical benefits. Therefore, “compensation” need not always include medical benefits as well as wage loss benefits. In other words, under the proper circumstances, “compensation” under Section 314(a) may include medical benefits as well as wage loss benefits. Justice Eakin filed a concurring opinion. Justice Saylor filed a dissenting opinion in which Chief Justice Castille and Justice Orie Melvin joined.


Time for Modification of the Injury Description Affirmed

In Dillinger v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Port Authority of Allegheny County), the Commonwealth Court affirmed that a Review Petition seeking to expand the description of the injury work-related injury must be filed within three years of the date of the most recent payment of compensation.


Pension Benefit Offsets – Judge Must Have Appropriate Evidence to Disregard Employer’s Calculations

When analyzing a pension offset against workers’ compensation benefits, a claimant must establish how, if at all, the use of the data or sources upon which claimant and claimant’s expert relies would materially impact the extent of the employer’s contributions, as determined by the employer’s expert. That’s the Commonwealth Court’s holding in Glaze v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (City of Pittsburgh).


Claimant Can’t Relitigate a “Decided” Issue

According to the Commonwealth Court in Cytemps Specialty Steel v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Crisman), when the nature and extent of a claimant’s work injuries and disability status have been litigated as of a specific date, then the doctrines of res judicata and/or collateral estoppel bar further litigation on the question of whether the claimant was injured as of the specific date.


Utilization Review – OK to Use Physicians with Other Specialties

In Leca v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Philadelphia School District), the Commonwealth Court addressed important issues in utilization review petitions. First, the Court held that a medical witness is not required to review the records relating to the treatment for the period under review. Rather, when, as here, the treatment under review was repetitive and ongoing, review of the specific records at issue is not per se required. Second, the Court rule that, in an appeal from a Utilization Review determination, a party is not required to present medical expert testimony from a physician in the same specialty as the treatment under review. Thus, pursuant to Section 306(f.1)(6)(i) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 531(6)(1), a physician is competent to testify in specialized areas of medicine, even though the physician is neither a specialist nor certified in those fields.


Joint Liability - Truckers

When assessing a claim implicating joint liability, there must be sufficient evidence to support an employment relationship between the employee and each employer, according to the Commonwealth Court’s holding in American Road Lines v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Royal). Further, the Court said that, in order to determine if an employment relationship is present, the court should consider factors such as if the employee's work directly further the interest of the employer and the indicia of control each entity had over the employee.