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.
Claimants Must Establish that Bills Were Properly Submitted in Order to Be Awarded Penalties
Simply alleging that bills weren't paid is not a sufficient basis for awarding penalties, according to the Commonwealth Court in Sims v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (School District of Philadelphia). In Sims, the Court held that, in order to prove that an employer violated the Act by failing to pay medical bills, a claimant must establish that the medical bills were submitted on the proper form and with all information necessary to permit an employer to ascertain that the billed treatment is related to the work injury. After a claimant makes a prima facie case that an employer has violated the Act, the burden then shifts to the employer to prove no violation.

July 2007 Edition
Volume 1
Number 7
www.schaffyoung.com


Schaff & Young, P.C.
One South Broad Street
Suite 1650
Philadelphia, PA 19107
P: 215-988-0090
F: 215-988-0091
www.schaffyoung.com
info@schaffyoung.com


An IRE Finding that a Claimant Has Some Permanent Impairment Does Not Bar an Employer from Seeking a Termination of Benefits
That is clearly the message in Weismantle v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Lucent Technologies), where the Commonwealth Court held that an employer's request for an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) does not render a pending termination petition moot. The Court also affirmed that IRE remedies are in addition to, not a replacement for, other remedies available to an employer. This ruling eliminates any questions that resulted from the Court's prior decision in Pryor v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Colin Service System), in which the Court held that, because clamant failed to formally admit the IRE into evidence and failed to pursue methods available to obtain its inclusion, the Court had no basis to consider whether a petition to terminate was barred based upon a finding of permanent impairment.

Good Lawyering - Preserve Objections or the Issue is Waived
At times lawyers are criticized for objecting too often during depositions and other testimony. But in DeGraw v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Redner's Warehouse Markets, Inc.), the failure to object was fatal to claimant's objections to the employer's medical witness' deposition testimony. In DeGraw, the Court held that a medical expert's testimony is competent, even when based upon medical records and other information outside the record, if the opposing party (1) does not object to the testimony at the time it is given, and (2) does not preserve the objections in accordance with the applicable Rules.

No Penalties for Failing to Pay an Appealed C&R Decision When Supersedeas is Granted
Confronted with a highly unusual set of facts, the Commonwealth Court ruled that Section 430(b) of the Workers' Compensation Act applies to payments under a Compromise and Release Agreement. As a result, a Workers' Compensation Judge does not abuse his or her discretion by declining to award penalties against an employer who filed an appeal from a decision approving a Compromise and Release Agreement for which supersedeas was granted by the Appeal Board.

Workers' Compensation Bureau Issues Final Regulations For Vocational Experts
On June 23, 2007, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation issued final regulations for the "Qualifications for Vocational Experts," which went into effect upon publication. The Regulations distinguish between individuals who conducted earning power assessment interviews under Section 306(b) of the Workers' Compensation Act before June 23, 2007 and those who did not.

In order for a vocational expert who has conducted earning power assessment interviews before June 23, 2007 to be approved, the individual must possess one of the following four qualifications:
  1. Certification by a nationally recognized professional organization (a list of which is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin) and one year experience analyzing labor market and other information; or,
  2. Certification by a nationally recognized professional organization under the direct supervision of an individual with the experience specified in paragraph (1); or,
  3. A bachelor's degree or license issued by the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, as long as the individual is under the direct supervision of an individual with the experience specified in paragraph (1); or,
  4. At least five (5) years experience primarily in the workers' compensation field prior to August 23, 1996, as a vocational evaluator, as well as other experience listed in the regulations.
In order for a vocational expert who has not conducted earning power assessment interviews before June 23, 2007 to be approved, the individual must:
  • Be certified by a nationally recognized professional organization; and,
  • Have a bachelor's or postgraduate degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related counseling field.
A complete copy of the new Regulations is available at http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol37/37-25/1081.html.

Study Demonstrates That Pennsylvania's Workers' Compensation System Is More Effective Than The Systems In Many Other States
According to a recently released study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute, Pennsylvania was one of four states (out of nine examined) that provided a 'better' value proposition for employers and injured workers." The study concluded that Pennsylvania "Employers paid less for medical care, yet workers achieved outcomes that were better than or in the middle of the range compared to workers in other study states. Workers in these states had generally better recoveries, were more likely to return to sustainable employment (and do so more quickly), experienced more timely medical treatment, had fewer problems accessing their medical care, and were less likely to be dissatisfied with their care." To read more about the study, go to http://www.wcrinet.org/studies/public/abstracts/wkrsurvey_9states-ab.html.