Employer reasonably contests claim despite knowledge of work injury
Case name: Pierce v. Schmidt Baking Co., 23 PAWCLR 212 (Pa. W.C.A.B. 2008).
Ruling: The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeal Board reversed the workers' compensation judge's award of unreasonable contest attorney's fees.
Summary: The board found that the employer's contest of the claimant's claim petition was reasonable. The claimant alleged that she sustained a work-related injury and damage to the muscles, joints, ligaments, bones and tissue of her right shoulder and arm. The WCJ granted the claim petition and concluded that the employer's contest was unreasonable. The board upheld the grant of the claim petition but found that the WCJ erred in concluding that the employer's contest was unreasonable. The employer presented evidence disputing that the claimant's disability was caused by her work injury. Further, the employer's knowledge of the claimant's work injury did not render its contest unreasonable. The claimant would have had to hire an attorney to litigate the exact nature of her work injury and her entitlement to disability benefits after she was terminated from her employment.
January 22, 2009
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