Community Service Group v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Peiffer), No. 90 C.D. 2009 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 05/05/09).
Ruling: The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court reversed the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board's award of a concurrent payment of specific loss benefits and ongoing partial disability benefits to the employee.
What it means:
In Pennsylvania, where medical treatment for a work injury aggravates an existing disability or causes a new or additional injury, the injury is deemed to have been caused by the original work injury.
The employee sustained a compensable injury that included a temporary exacerbation to a preexisting neck fusion. The employer and employee settled the employee's disfigurement claim -- for scarring to her neck resulting from surgery -- with the employer agreeing to pay specific loss benefits for a period of time after the employee ceased receiving total disability benefits. A subsequent agreement reinstated full benefits after a determination that the employee's condition was permanent. The employer filed a modification petition seeking to change the employee's benefit status to temporary partial disability. The employer argued that the employee's injury was not permanent and that she not was entitled to receive concurrent ongoing partial disability and specific loss benefits.
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court reversed, finding that a disfigurement caused by medical treatment for the work-related injury is not separate and distinct from the original work-related injury such that the employee could receive concurrent benefits. Payment of the specific loss benefits for the disfigurement could not begin until disability payments were no longer due and owing. The court reversed the board's decision ordering payment of the concurrent benefits.
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September 25, 2009
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