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Worker Recovers Benefits From Fund in Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Case

In a recent workers compensation case the Pennsylvania Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund (Fund) asked the court to review a workers’ compensation decision. The Board had affirmed the workers’ compensation judge’s decision to grant the worker’s claim petition and ask the Fund to pay the worker’s total disability compensation. The employer had employed the worker to do basic construction in 2009. He was paid an hourly wage of $10, working long days.

On the day he was hired, the worker was pulling off a roof under the direction of his employer. He fell off, landed on concrete, hit his head, and had a seizure. He was administered drugs and put into a coma. He experienced a skull fracture and a left eye injury. The worker was treated by a neurosurgeon and psychologist.

He filed a claim with the employer, but because the employer was uninsured he had to file a claim asking the Fund for benefits. The Fund denied that it owed him money. A workers’ compensation judge held several hearings that the employer didn’t attend. The worker testified that he had been removing the roof. He put a plywood board over the beams to create a place on which to stand. A beam was weak due to dry rot and he told the employer it would not support him. The employer told him it would. The worker stood on it. The next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital bed. He continued to have headaches, balance issues, and eye pain.

At the hearing, he presented a doctor’s testimony. The doctor had diagnosed the worker with mild traumatic brain injury. The doctor understood a few months before the worker’s first visit that the claimant had fallen while performing a work task for his employer and hit his head.

The doctor testified that during the worker’s first visit he complained of pressure headaches, blurred vision, fatigue, and memory problems. The doctor performed testing. He later testified that, based on his tests and diagnosis, the worker would probably respond well to a particular brain medication.

The worker had not come back for the medical appointments that were scheduled. On cross-examination, the doctor was asked if the worker had a learning disability or drug abuse problem. The doctor denied this suggestion and said he believed that the medication he prescribed for the worker was working well.

The Fund presented testimony from the independent medical examiner who had confirmed the injury but testified that the worker’s chief ongoing complaint was a daily headache. He testified that the exam was normal and that a residual contusion was not the source of his headaches. He didn’t recommend any extra treatment or preventative seizure medication and gave the opinion he was ready to go back to work at light duty.

The workers’ compensation judge granted the petition and asked the Fund to pay the worker’s total disability compensation. It noted that the Fund’s liability was second to the employer’s.  The judge found the testimony was credible. The worker earned a weekly wage of $400, and he hadn’t fully recovered. The judge rejected the independent doctor’s testimony as unwarranted with regard to the medication and the headaches not being connected to the work injury.

The Fund appealed. The Board affirmed. The Fund appealed to the court, claiming there wasn’t substantial evidence of an ongoing disability. The court noted that the judge was the final person to decide witness credibility and the weight of evidence and affirmed the ruling.

An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate the facts of your particular case if you are hurt because of an entity’s negligence and bring a lawsuit on your behalf if appropriate. Contact the attorneys at Needle Law Firm at 570-344-1266 or via our online form for a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Lack of Informed Consent in Pennsylvania, Feburary 7, 2014

Defectively Designed Car in a Pennsylvania Accident, February 7, 2014

 

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