Jerry M. Lehocky, Esquire recently succeeded in securing Workers’ Compensation benefits for an injured worker, who had suffered a severe cervical injury while working as a home health aid worker on February 21, 2010. In response to the injury, the injured worker’s employer issued a Notice of Compensation Denial, through which it downplayed the extent of the injuries and declined to pay Workers’ Compensation benefits, although the injured worker had been unable to return to work since the date of the incident. The employer also failed to adhere to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act by failing to issue the Denial within 21 days of the reported work injury.
In granting the Claim Petition, the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) not only expanded the description of the work-related injury, based on the medical evidence presented by Mr. Lehocky, but also ordered the employer to pay the injured worker weekly compensation benefits beginning on February 21, 2010 and ongoing, plus statutory interest. Because Mr. Lehocky exposed the employer’s violation of the Workers’ Compensation Act, through its mishandling of this matter, the WCJ awarded a maximum penalty award of 50% on all deferred and unpaid compensation benefits, in addition to the weekly wage loss benefits and medical benefits awarded through the Decision. In fact, theWCJ found the employer’s defense of the matter so unreasonable, that he awarded Mr. Lehocky unreasonable contest attorneys fees, payable in addition to the award of weekly compensation benefits, penalty, and statutory interest.