When you are injured and successfully pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, that may not be the “end of the line” for your case. Your employer may choose to make attempts to have your benefits cut off. In order to do that, though, the employer must persuade the judge that a change has occurred in your medical condition and that this change means that you are able to return to work. Whether you are pursuing your claim for benefits or opposing an attempt to terminate your benefits, it helps to have experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation counsel fighting to protect your rights and benefits.
The case of Adrian serves as an example of what an employer has to do to get a termination of a worker’s benefits. Adrian was hurt while on the job in Philadelphia. She suffered cervical, dorsal, and lumbar strains due to a vehicle accident that occurred while she was on the job. Adrian filed a claim in 2012, and the workers’ compensation judge awarded her benefits.
Some time later, the employer filed an action seeking the termination of Adrian’s benefits, but the judge refused to end the benefits. In 2014, the employer filed another request to end Adrian’s benefits. This time, after the worker underwent an independent medical exam, the judge concluded that the woman had fully recovered from her accident-induced back injury and was capable of returning to her pre-injury job.
The case then went to the Workers’ Compensation Board, which reversed the judge, meaning that Adrian retained her right to continue receiving benefits. The employer appealed, but Adrian again prevailed. Adrian’s success highlights just what is required in order for an employer to launch a successful argument that the worker’s “disability has reduced or ceased due to an improvement in physical ability.”
First, the employer has to give the judge persuasive medical proof that a change in the worker’s physical condition has taken place. If the judge does not find that a change has happened, the worker’s benefits will continue. If the judge concludes that a change has occurred, the judge next must analyze whether or not that change has affected the worker’s disability. In other words, the judge must decide whether the worker’s physical improvement altered her loss of earning power that was triggered by the original accident.
If the employer’s request for termination is a second (or subsequent) request, the employer has to show a medical change that has occurred since the last time the employer asked for termination. The law sets up all of these procedural requirements to protect workers. Without them, an aggressive or well-financed employer could simply file the same termination request over and over, using the same proof, until it finally secured a ruling in its favor.
In Adrian’s case, the employer offered evidence that Adrian had reached maximum medical improvement. Evidence of maximum medical improvement, though, isn’t the same thing as proof of a change in physical condition. It only means that the worker’s progress has plateaued and that she is not likely to get any better; it does not necessarily mean that she has experienced an improvement.
When it comes to obtaining or protecting workers’ compensation benefits, the diligent Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys at Needle Law Firm have been fighting aggressively for injured workers for many years. Reach out to us to find out how we can help you seek the compensation to which the law says you are entitled.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling (570) 344-1266.
More blog posts:
Overcoming Your Employer’s Attempt to Terminate Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Pennsylvania Accident Lawyer Blog, Feb. 5, 2018
Maintaining Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Even After Returning to Work, Pennsylvania Accident Lawyer Blog, Jan. 28, 2018