PA Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Work Comp Case of First Impression

In a case that will impact injured workers and future court decisions throughout all of the counties in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument and issue a decision on an issue of great importance to employees who suffer work injuries caused by the negligence or carelessness of a person or entity other than the employer for the injured worker. When a work injury is caused by negligence or carelessness of someone else, that party is subject to a civil lawsuit and can be compensated above and beyond the workers’ compensation benefits owed to the injured worker. Because workers’ compensation benefits only partially replace the wages of someone injured on-the-job and because work comp benefits do not pay for all the losses and damages caused by work injuries, in appropriate cases, a lawsuit can be filed on behalf of the injured worker and his or her family against the responsible person or company in order to more fully compensate them by obtaining compensation for the pain and suffering of the injured worker, as well as for disruption to the home life of the injured worker and his family.

One of the significant legal issues involved in these types of cases involves the issue as to whether or not the employer and/or the work comp insurance company for the for the employer is entitled to a credit applied to future medical expenses after the injured worker obtains an award or settlement of his or her personal injury claim.  The issue is somewhat technical based upon language in the PA Workers’ Compensation Act, but the practical impact has to do with whether or not the injured worker will be responsible to pay for a portion/percentage of his or he own medical expenses in the future for treatment of the work-related injury.  At this time, based on a decision by the Commonwealth Court in Whitmoyer v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Mountain Country Meats), the status of the law is that the employer/insurer is entitled to such a credit.  However, in that case, the personal injury lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., represent the victim who suffered a serious work-injury involving the amputation and specific loss of the right upper extremity at the distal forearm.  On behalf of the injured worker, the work comp attorneys at the firm filed an extensive petition/brief with Pennsylvania Supreme Court requesting that the Supreme Court address the issue (which it has not previously determined) since it is the positon of the claimant and his lawyers that an employer/insurer is not entitled to a credit with regard to future medical benefits and, after the filing of Petition for Allowance, the Supreme Court has agreed to rule on this issue of critical importance to workers who are injured by parties other than their own employer.  Once a decision is reached by the Supreme Court, the firm will provide an updated report.

The attorneys at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of workers in Reading, Berks County, PA, Pottsville, Schuylkill County, PA, and throughout Eastern and Central PA. The lawyers there handle workers’ compensation claims and workplace injury lawsuits, including claims for serious injuries or death caused by the negligence of others.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire

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