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.


Bureau Forms – Pension Offsets

In City of Pittsburgh v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Wright), the Commonwealth Court reiterated that an employer must send/issue the Form LIBC-756 (“Employee’s Report of Benefits for Offsets”) before seeking an offset for pension benefits under Section 204(a) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 71(a) and 34 Pa. Code absent a request for an extension. The Court also addressed potential recoupment of an overpayment, holding that an overpayment that a WCJ does not have to consider the hardship when the period of recoupment is six months or less.


May 2014 Edition
Volume VIII
Number 5
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Superior Court Tackles Issues of Commuting & Ridesharing

In National Casualty Co. v. Kinney, the Court ruled that an employee is not within the course and scope of his or her employment when commuting to work while participating in a ridesharing arrangement in which (1) the employee selects a van or van company of his or her choosing, (2) participating employees deal directly with van companies to maximize the value of their vouchers, (3) the employer does not require employees to participate in the arrangement, and (4) participating employees can opt-out at any time. The Court permitted the plaintiff to proceed with his third party action, ruling that it was not barred by the Workers’ Compensation Act. The opinion also offers an excellent overview of the relationship between the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Ridesharing Act, 55 P.S. § 695.1, et seq.


What is a De Facto NCP & Who Has the Burden of Proof

The Commonwealth Court focused on multiple issued in Furnari v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Temple Island):

  • Payment of an injured worker’s salary and medical expenses in lieu of compensation constitutes a de facto Notice of Compensation Payable.

  • When there is both a documented work-related injury, either by adjudication or acceptance such as a Notice of Compensation Payable, and that injury gives rise to a disability, i.e., loss of earning power, the proper burden of proof is that of a reinstatement petition. In the absence of both or either of these prongs, the burden of proof is that of a claim petition.

  • Because strictness of pleadings is not required in workers’ compensation cases, and in the interest of judicial economy, a Workers’ Compensation Judge is empowered to take appropriate action based on the evidence presented. Thus, in this case, in which a claimant sought reinstatement of suspended benefits, even though it was alleged that the suspension was improper, the employer was not required to file a suspension petition in order to obtain that relief. Rather, by filing an Answer denying the obligation to pay wage losses, the WCJ could grant a suspension.

Of note, the WCJ suspended benefits that had been previously unilaterally suspended. Thus, the question remains whether the Court will countenance the same result if benefits were ongoing.


Court Limits Untimely Joinder

Absent a request for an extension, a party must file a petition for within 20 days of the date when evidence is presented regarding the reason for which joinder is sought, not 20 days from the date on which evidence is presented establishing a reason for requesting joinder. So ruled the Commonwealth Court in Pennsylvania Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Dudkiewicz). In addition, the Court emphasized that the UEGF is the equivalent of an insurer, and that the UEGF must comply with all applicable Rules of Practice and the language of the Workers’ Compensation Act and may not disregard these policies and procedures.