The workers’ compensation lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C. in Reading, PA are constantly keeping up with the law to help our clients. In one recent case, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania held that, when a claimant no longer lives in Pennsylvania, the claimant’s benefits could be reduced based on jobs available in the “usual employment area” where the injury occurred, and the employer did not need to locate jobs in the the client’s new state and county.
In Rebeor v. WCAB (Eckerd), 976 A.2d 655 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2009), the Claimant was involved in a work-related car accident on August 28, 2002 in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. He underwent treatment and returned to light duty work with the Defendant in March 2003. The Claimant stopped working in December 2005, when the Employer eliminated his job. He was released to medium duty work following a medical exam in March 16, 2006, and underwent a vocational interview for the insurance company on July 25, 2006. The Claimant relocated to South Carolina in September 2006. The Defendant filed a Petition to reduce comp benefits based on jobs available to the Claimant in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. The Workers’ Compensation Judge ordered that the Claimant ‘s benefits be reduced.
On appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the Claimant argued that the Defendant did not act reasonably in utilizing a labor market survey based on jobs allegedly available to him in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, because the Defendant knew of Claimant’s relocation to South Carolina. However, the Court concluded that the “usual employment area ”,as defined by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act providing for a modification of benefits based on labor market survey, is the “area in which the employe lives within this Commonwealth [and i]f the employe does not live in this Commonwealth, then the usual employment area where the injury occurred shall apply.”
By Andrew F. Fick, Esquire, Work Comp lawyer, Liever, Hyman & Potter, Worker’s compensation Attorneys, serving Reading, Berks County, PA and Schuylkill County. Chairman of the Workers Compensation Section , Berks County Bar Association.