The latest case law updates were written by our resident expert, associate Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer, Melissa Chandy.
1912 Hoover House Restaurant v WCAB (Soverns), __ A.3d __ (Pa. Cmwlth No. 309 C.D. 2014, filed November 10, 2014).
The claimant suffered facial lacerations and permanent scarring after being bitten by a co-worker’s dog. The injury was found to be in the course and scope of employment because it occurred during a brief departure from the claimant’s work activities, in a break area, where employees were regularly permitted to smoke. The fact that the claimant’s injury occurred while petting a dog did not represent an active departure from the claimant’s work activities and amounted to nothing more than a short cessation from his work duties. The fact that the claimant had also been warned not to pet the dog did not make the act of petting the dog wholly foreign to claimant’s employment since the act was not “premeditated, deliberate, extreme, and inherently of a high-risk nature.”
Trautman v WCAB (Blystone Tree Service and UEGF), __ A.3d __ (Pa. Cmwlth. No 389 C.D. 2014, filed November 14, 2014).
The clear language of Section 1601 precludes the assessment of unreasonable contest counsel fees against the UEGF.
Fields v WCAB (City of Phila) __ A.3d __ (Pa. Cmwlth. No. 42 C.D.2014, filed November 14, 2014).
Benefits awarded for multiple specific losses arising from the same injury must be paid consecutively and not concurrently, pursuant to Section 306(c)(21) of the Act.
Stermel v WCAB (City of Phila), __ A.3d __ (Pa. Cmwlth. No. 221 C.D., 2013, filed November 13, 2014)
An employer has no right of subrogation under the Heart and Lung Act for benefits paid to the victim of a motor vehicle accident under the Motor Vehicles Financial Responsibility Law. The Court observed that the Motor Vehicles Financial Responsibility Law prevents a plaintiff from including Heart and Lung benefits as an element of damages and noted that there can be no subrogation for receipt of Heart and Lung benefits out of an award which does not include such benefits. The Court also noted that because the claimant cannot include a loss of wages covered by the Heart and Lung Act under the Motor Vehicles Financial Responsibility Law, the claimant does not receive a double recovery of lost wages or medical bills.