Here is a list of some recent decisions in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Cases that may be of interest:

  1. With the ever changing definition of marriage in the United States, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, that considers appeals, found that a Native American ceremonial marriage was valid for purposes of determining whether a widow was entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits.
  2. When a third party is responsible for work related injuries (think of a worker hurt on the job because of defective machinery), the workers’ compensation carrier is absolutely entitled to receive reimbursement for a portion of benefits paid or payable out of any recovery from a third party.  However, in another case, the appellate Courts have held that if an employee does not pursue such a third party case, the insurance company for the employer cannot unilaterally seek to assert those subrogation rights on behalf of the employee.
  3. The Pennsylvania Appellate Courts continue to wrestle with the mental/mental injuries to workers.  These are claims where mental stress, that is not accompanied by physical injuries, results solely in mental injuries.  In a recent case in which a woman was held at gunpoint and told her husband would be shot if she did not hand over cash in a robbery, the Court sent the case back to the WC Judge to determine whether such an injury was an “abnormal” working condition.  While it seems obvious to me that any robbery outside of working in law enforcement would be considered “abnormal”, the Courts seem to be undecided in making a blanket ruling on this type of mental/mental injury.
  4. In a case involving an allergic reaction to chemical at work where the employee suffered from pre-existing non work related asthma, the Court once again is perplexed with dealing with the situation where once the aggravation has abated (in large part due to the elimination of continued exposure to work related chemicals) whether the employer is entitled to stop benefits even though returning to the work place would once again aggravate the asthma.  The appellate Court sent the case back to the WC Judge to determine whether there was any permanent physiologic changes.

If you think you need a workers’compensation attorney, contact Monahan Law Practice for a free consultation. 610-363-3888.