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.

Employee Can Sue for Wrongful Discharge Without Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

A cause of action exists under Pennsylvania law for wrongful discharge of an employee who files a claim for benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act but has not filed a Claim Petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, according to the Commonwealth Court in Owens v. Lehigh Valley Hospital.

December 2014 Edition
Volume VIII
Number 12

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Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Benefits May Be Attached to Pay Alimony

Addressing the issue of attachment of Longshore benefits, the Commonwealth Court ruled in Uveges v. Uveges that a spouse (Spouse A) may attach the other spouse’s (Spouse B) Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act disability benefits to pay Spouse B’s alimony obligations.

Brief Break From Work Doesn’t Take Injury Out of Course & Scope of Employment

In an unusual fact pattern, the Commonwealth Court ruled that an employee injured during a brief, but not pronounced, departure from work activities is within the course and scope of his employment and entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. In this case, 1912 Hoover House Restaurant v. WCAB, the injured worker was on a cigarette break expressly permitted by his employer in an area designated by the employer as a break area when he was attacked while petting a dog.

To Combat an IRE, Claimant Must Present Qualified Physician Testimony

This decision in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. WCAB (Slessler). In the case, the Commonwealth Court held that because the evidence in a modification petition involving impairment rating evaluations under Section 306(a.2)(1) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 511.2, is generated through a process requiring evaluation by a medical professional, a claimant seeking to respond to such evidence must offer evidence of similar quality and character, i.e., competent opinion evidence from a medical professional. Thus, when a claimant seeks to rebut competent IRE evidence, he or she must present evidence of similar character, i.e., evidence of rating evaluations performed only by those persons deemed qualified to engage in rating evaluations, i.e., osteopathic or medical doctors.

Specific Loss Benefits for Multiple Losses Must Be Paid Consecutively

Benefits for multiple specific losses under Section 306(c)(23) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 513(c)(23), must be paid consecutively. So ruled the Commonwealth Court in Fields v. WCAB. This case addresses the limited circumstances in which a worker suffers the loss of both hands or both arms or both feet or both legs or both eyes, and the provision of the Act that had given the Appeal Board the ability to determine how such benefits may be paid.

No Subrogation Under Heart and Lung Act For Motor Vehicle Accident Claims

An employer has no right to subrogation under the Heart and Lung Act for benefits paid to victims of motor vehicle accidents under the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law. That is the ruling of the Commonwealth Court in Stermel v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (City of Philadelphia). Because the employer is prohibited from subrogating against the recovery, a plaintiff is prohibited from including Heart and Lung Act benefits as an element of damages pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S. § 1720.

No Unreasonable Contest Fees in Claims Against Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund

Analyzing the statute according to its plain language, the Commonwealth Court ruled in Trautman v. WCAB (Blystone Tree Service and Pennsylvania Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund), that attorney’s fees for unreasonable contest may not be assessed against the Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund pursuant to Section 1605(b) of the Act, 77 P.S. § 2705(b).