Case Law Update I Commonwealth v. WCAB (Slessler) I PA Work Injury

November 4, 2014

The employer filed a Mod IRE Petition. To rebut the IRE, the claimant offered deposition testimony of a psychologist, who testified to his review of the IRE and regarding his own IRE of the claimant. The claimant’s medical expert was not licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania nor was he certified by any American medical or osteopathic specialist board. 

 

The WCJ accepted the testimony of the claimant’s medical expert and rejected the IRE physician’s testimony as incompetent because he failed to provide testimony that he adequately considered all relevant guidelines and tables in the AMA Guides. The Modification Petition was denied. The Board Affirmed.

 

On Appeal, the Commonwealth Court found that the WCJ had based his competency decision on his own understanding of the means by which the IRE physician applied the AMA Guides. The Court observed that any such failing of an expert would affect credibility, not competency. Accordingly, the WCJ erred by finding the IRE physician’s testimony not competent.  

 

The Court next addressed the issue of whether the testimony of the claimant’s medical expert was competent and valid for the purpose of responding to the IRE. The Court held that in order to rebut competent IRE evidence, the claimant must present evidence of similar character - i.e, evidence of rating evaluations performed only by those qualified to engage in rating evaluations - osteopathic or medical doctors. Here, the testimony of a non-medical expert  - a psychologist - was not competent for the purpose of rebutting the competent IRE evidence. 

 

In reviewing the record, the Court found that the claimant had not posed any questions on cross-examination, which would support the WCJ’s finding that the IRE physician did not apply the Guides properly. The matter was remanded for the WCJ to issue new findings regarding the IRE physician’s credibility and competency, supported by the actual and competent evidentiary record. The WCJ was also instructed that he should not consider the testimony of the claimant’s medical expert.

Select an attorney

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation

If you get hurt on the job, you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys will help you file your claim successfully.
Learn More

Social Security Disability

If you have a medical condition and can not work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.
Learn More

My Case Status for Existing Clients

All current clients have access to My Case Status. This website allows them access to check the status and progression of their case, update their information, securely send and receive medical and case-related documents, contact their legal team, and watch helpful videos.

Click here to access My Case Status.

Learn More