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.

When Mailing Appellate Pleadings, You Must Complete and Include a Certificate of Mailing

When filing a document with an appellate court, Pa.R.A.P. 1514 requires a party to use a United States Postal Service Form 3817 Certificate of Mailing. The form must identify the case to which it pertains and must either be included in the mailing or mailed separately to the Prothonotary. If a party does not comply with these requirements, the document will be deemed to be filed on the day it is received.

September 2011 Edition
Volume V
Number 9

Schaff & Young, P.C.
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Court Explains Eligibility Standards for Act 534 Benefits

Under the law commonly known as “Act 534,” employees of Pennsylvania penal and correctional institutions and mental hospitals injured in the course of their employment are entitled to receive their salary until they are able to return to work for their employer at a salary equal to the salary earned at the time of the injury, according to the Commonwealth Court in McWreath v. Department of Public Welfare. Of note, Act 534 benefits are separate from benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act, and under Section 1 of Act 534, an employee is entitled to benefits as long as the work-related “disability” prevents the employee's return to the Department's employee at his or her pre-injury salary. Section 1 does not require the actual availability of a position with a Department in order to be eligible for benefits. In addition, unlike the Heart and Lung Act, Section 1 does not require injured employees to have current membership in the workforce to be eligible for benefits.

Simply Because the Injury Affects a Degenerative Condition Does Not Mean It’s Not Work-Related

That’s the holding of the Commonwealth Court in Green v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (US Airways). The Court noted that the mere reference to the “degenerative nature” of a claimant's injury is insufficient to rule out “work-relatedness.” To the contrary, a degenerative condition may be activated or accelerated by work-related trauma.

Misrepresentations Can Support Denial of a Petition for Reinstatement

A claimant is entitled to reinstatement of disability benefits when light-duty employment is terminated, provided the discharge is not based upon the conduct of the claimant. When a claimant misrepresents his physical abilities and is discharged because of this type of misrepresentation, he is not entitled to a reinstatement of disability benefits. So ruled the Commonwealth Court in Sauer v. Worker's Compensation Appeal Board (Verizon Pennsylvania, Inc.).

Necessary Proofs in Fatal Claim Petitions

In a decision that affirms longstanding law, the Commonwealth Court ruled in Werner v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Greenleaf Service Corp.), that in a Fatal Claim Petition, the claimant bears the burden of demonstrating that the decedent's injury arose in the course of employment and was causally related thereto. If the record fails to establish where the injury occurred, how the injury occurred, when the injury occurred and, most importantly, what the employee was doing when the injury occurred, then the claimant has failed to establish that the decedent was injured in the course and scope of employment.