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.


Court Permits Mental Disability Claim

In a rare decision granting “mental-mental” benefits, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that an on-duty police officer is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when he strikes and kills a mentally-disabled individual who runs in front of his car while he is driving and thereafter the officer suffers from PTSD. The Court affirmed the WCJ’s conclusion that the claimant experienced an extraordinarily unusual, abnormal and distressing work event that resulted in the officer’s disabling mental condition. This case, Payes v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Commonwealth PA State Police), turned on the fact that the event that caused the disability did not have any connection to the officer’s employment, other than the fact that the accident occurred while the officer was on duty. Chief Justice Castille filed a concurring and dissenting opinion. Justice Eakin filed a dissenting opinion.


November 2013 Edition
Volume VII
Number 7
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Description of Injury Not Automatically Amended to Conform to IRE Findings

In Harrison v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Auto Truck Transport Corp.), the Commonwealth Court ruled that Section 413(a) of the Workers’ Compensation Act permits, but does not require, a Workers’ Compensation Judge to amend a Notice of Compensation Payable. In this case, the Court noted that even if a Workers’ Compensation Judge accepts an impairment rating that includes non-work-related injuries, the WCJ’s acceptance of the impairment rating does not implicitly amend the Notice of Compensation Payable to include the non-work related injuries.


Burden of Proof Remains on Claimant in Hearing Loss Claims

So ruled the Commonwealth Court in McCool v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Sunoco, Inc.). In this case, the Court held that, under Section 306(c)(8) of the Act, a Claimant must show that his hearing loss was work-related even when it is undisputed that a Claimant suffered a permanent bilateral hearing loss greater than 10 percent.


Discovery Rule Continues to Apply to Notice of Injury

An injured worker must provide notice of his injury when he learns about the causal connection between the injury and his work duties pursuant to Section 311 of the Act. In A & J Builders, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Verdi), the Court affirmed prior rulings of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that Section 311 includes a discovery rule, which allows an employee to give notice within 120 days of becoming aware of the correlation between the employment and the injury.


Appropriateness of Medical Care Based Upon License of Medical Care Provider

In Moran v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (McCarthy Flowers), the Commonwealth Court ruled that when a licensed practical nurse provides massage therapy prescribed by a physician, and the employer fails to establish that massage therapy did not come under the duties of a licensed practical nurse, the nurse’s services are considered within the scope of the nurse’s practice.


Acceptance of Disability Benefits Not a Per Se Voluntary Withdrawal from Workforce

So ruled the Commonwealth Court in Turner v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (City of Pittsburgh). The case affirmed prior decisions holding that a claimant’s application for and acceptance of a disability pension does not raise a presumption that the claimant has retired/withdrawn from the workforce.