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.
Self-Help Equals Penalties
A Workers’ Compensation Judge was correct in penalizing an employer that utilized “self-help” – it simply ignored the Judge’s Order and failed to make any payments to the claimant –properly penalized the employer fifty (50%) percent, according to the Commonwealth Court in City of Philadelphia v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Sherlock).

November 2007 Edition
Volume 1
Number 11
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Wages Include Reimbursed Board and Lodging Expenses
In Lennon v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Epps Aviation, Inc.), the Commonwealth Court affirmed that the calculation of an employee’s average weekly wage includes reimbursed board and lodging expenses paid by the employer.

Average Weekly Wage May Be Based on Anticipated Income
That’s the holding of the Commonwealth Court in Lahr Mechanical v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Floyd). In Lahr, the Court ruled that, under Section 309(d.2) of the Act, a Workers’ Compensation Judge may calculate a worker’s average weekly wage by multiplying the worker’s hourly wage by the number of hours the worker expected to work per week – even if the worker never actually worked those hours.

Temporary Compensation Begins on the First Day of Disability – Calculate Your Deadlines Accordingly
Clarifying an issue of concern to both claimants and employers, in Galizia v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Woodloch Pines, Inc.), the Commonwealth Court has ruled that the first day of the ninety (90) day period for payment of temporary compensation under a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable (NTCP) begins on the first date of a claimant’s disability. Consequently, , an employer must issue a Notice Stopping Temporary Compensation within the ninety (90) day period of disability, or the NTCP will automatically convert to a Notice of Compensation Payable.

No False Defenses
In Delarosa v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Masonic Homes), the Commonwealth Court ruled that, when an employer defends against a workers’ compensation petition based upon a false statement of law, a Workers’ Compensation Judge may assess attorney’s fees for an unreasonable contest.

Another Reason to Get a Resignation When Settling a Case
Under Section 204(b) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, 77 P.S. § 71, an employee seeking unemployment compensation benefits, but who does not meet the monetary and credit week requirements because of a compensable work-related injury, may have his or her base year consist of the four complete calendar quarters immediately preceding the date of his or her work-related injury, provided the injury was deemed compensable under the Act. This ruling, in Jackson v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, provides an additional reason why an employer should, whenever possible, obtain a resignation from a claimant – reducing the likelihood that the claimant will be able to receive unemployment compensation benefits in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.

Providers Must File a Fee Review to Dispute Amounts Paid for Medical Care
The Commonwealth Court has affirmed the plain language of the Workers’ Compensation Act, which requires a medical provider seeking to challenge the amount paid for treatment to file a fee review petition pursuant. If the provider fails to file the fee petition, it may not seek other relief, including penalties, according to the Commonwealth Court in Enterprise Rent-A-Car v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Clabaugh).

Credits Apply to Severance Payments, Not Furlough Benefits
An employer is not entitled to a credit for furlough benefits paid to an employee because these are not “severance benefits” under Section 204(a) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, 77 P.S. § 71. In Kelly v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (US Airways Group, Inc.), the Court distinguished between furlough and severance benefits, noting that severance benefits are paid to an employee who “separates from employment for any reason,” whereas when an employee is subject to a “furlough,” the employment relationship is maintained but held in abeyance because of an employer’s lack of work or financial resources.

File Your Utilization Reviews Promptly
In Ryndycz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (White Engineering), the Commonwealth Court affirmed that the tolling of the thirty (30) day period for challenging medical bills under the Workers’ Compensation Act does not apply to termination petitions. In those cases, an employer may only challenge medical bills submitted no more than thirty (30) days before the filing of the utilization review request under 34 Pa. Code § 127.404(b). Of importance here is the fact that the employer had never issued a Notice of Compensation Payable or Notice of Compensation Denial, but had paid medical expenses for what was an undisputed work injury. Despite the absence of Bureau documents, the Court ruled that Claimant’s “Claim Petition” should be deemed a Termination Petition in the context of this case.