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 We look forward to hearing from you.

Drinking Alcohol Does Per Se Remove A Worker From the Scope of Employment

Drinking alcohol in violation of a company policy does no per se take an employee outside the scope of his or her employment, according to the Superior Court in Employers Mutual Casualty Co. v. Boiler Erection and Repair Co. The Court added that, even if it is proven that an accident would not have occurred but for a co-worker's intoxication, that fact alone would not necessarily take an employ outside the course and scope of his or her employment.).

January 2009 Edition
Volume III
Number 1

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You MUST Send a Notice of Ability to Return to Work

That’s the clear holding in Miegoc v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Throop Fashions/Leslie Fay and ITS Hartford). In Miegoc, the Commonwealth Court held that Section 306(b)(3) of the Workers' Compensation Act, which created the Notice of Ability to Return to Work, requires an employer to share new medical information concerning a claimant's physical ability to work and to notify a claimant that this new information could affect the claimant's entitlement to benefits. In addition, because Section 306(b)(3) does not affect the substantive rights of either party, the provision applies retroactively.

Amending Notices of Compensation Payable – Be Vigilant

In Weney v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Mac Sprinkler Systems, Inc.), the Commonwealth Court made it clear that claimants must file a review petition if it is known that the NCP should be amended. In particular, the Court held that when a Claimant seeks to amend an NCP to include injuries of the claimant was aware of during an earlier review petition proceeding, the second Review Petition was barred by technical res judicata.

Pension Benefit Offsets

The Commonwealth Court continues to address the issues arising with pension offsets. In Department of Public Welfare v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Harvey), the Court affirmed that, for purposes of calculating a pension benefit offset, an actuarially-estimated rate of return, when supported by expert testimony, is sufficient to determine the amount of an employer's contribution to a claimant’s pension.

Reasoned Decisions – Every Flaw Doesn’t Mean a Reversal

In reviewing a Workers' Compensation Judge's decision, an appellate court is not required to reverse or remand the case if it finds any flaw in the decision, according to the Commonwealth Court in Casne v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (STAT Couriers, Inc., and State Workers' Insurance Fund). Rather, the Court ruled that the reasoned decision requirement does not differ appreciably from the traditional notions of deference owed credibility determinations.

Unemployment Offset Mandatory

Under Section 204(a) of the Workers’ Compensation Act, a Workers Compensation Judge must award an offset for unemployment compensation benefits when the amount is undisputed, whether the employer raises the issue or not. That is the decision of the Commonwealth Court in Costa v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Carlisle Corp).

A Full Recovery Is A Change of Condition

In Delaware County v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Browne), the Commonwealth Court held that if an employer presents credible medical evidence that a claimant's physical condition is different from how it was at the time of the last disability adjudication, i.e., claimant had totally recovered, this medical evidence satisfies an employer's burden of providing a change in a claimant's physical condition.