Doctor's testimony on full recovery doesn't require physical exam
Stancell v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (LKI Group, LLC), No. 1901 C.D. 2009 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 03/10/10).
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the grant of the employer's termination petition.
What it means: In Pennsylvania, an employer seeking to terminate benefits has the burden of presenting competent medical testimony that the worker has fully recovered. A medical expert's opinion that a worker has fully recovered can be based on sufficient evidence even if the expert has not personally physical examined the worker.
Summary: A worker injured her back, hand and lower arm when she fell in a compensable accident. The employer alleged the worker had fully recovered and had unrestricted ability to return to work. The employer's termination petition was granted. The worker argued that the employer did not carry its burden of proof because its expert did not testify that he examined the worker's right lower arm. Therefore, he could not testify to her full recovery from that part of her work injury. The Commonwealth Court affirmed the termination of benefits, noting that the employer's expert was aware of the worker's described work injury, he asked her if the arm was giving her any pain at the time, and he opined that she had fully recovered from her work injury. Conversely, the worker's treating chiropractor made no mention of her lower arm pain. The employer's expert noted that he asked the worker about that pain and she did not mention it.
The Commonwealth Court also pointed out that when the worker testified, she never mentioned that she suffered from any lower arm pain. Therefore, the employer's expert's testimony that the worker fully recovered from that injury was substantial, competent evidence, and the expert did not need to specifically examine her arm to make his determination.
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May 6, 2010
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