Workers’ Compensation Judge’s Decision Suspending Benefits Overturned
Ryan Zavodnick | February 16, 2016 | Workers' Compensation
A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board held that the workers’ compensation judge erred when he suspended the claimant’s benefits without proof of job availability. The claimant injured her neck as a result of repetitive work activities. She eventually underwent neck surgery after which her surgeon restricted her from all work activities for 2.5 months and then released her to perform light duty work. Her employer contested that her work duties caused her neck injury, however, the workers’ compensation judge agreed that her work activities caused her to become disabled as a result of a large disc herniation in her neck. The judge granted the claimant wage loss benefits for the 2.5 months following her surgery, however, he suspended her wage loss benefits as of the date her surgeon released her to light duty. The judge suspended her benefits despite the fact that her employer admitted they never offered her any job within her light duty restrictions.
In overturning the decision of the workers’ compensation judge, the appeal board upheld the rule of law in Pennsylvania that proof a work injury is causing a disability combined with evidence no employment within the injured workers’ physical capabilities has been offered by the employer is sufficient evidence to prove an entitlement to ongoing wage loss benefits. The appeal board specifically rejected the employer’s argument that in a Claim Petition an employer does not need to show proof of job availability.
This case highlights the importance of hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who knows the law and is willing to challenge the workers’ compensation judge’s decision when it does not conform with Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws. If you have been injured at work contact Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC today for your free case evaluation. Call (215) 875-7030.