Injured Worker’s Benefits Not Suspended in PA Workers’ Comp, When Released to Full-Duty Work But Employer Offers No Job

What happens when an injured worker in Pennsylvania is released by his or her doctor to return to work, without restriction, but the injured worker has no job waiting for him or her? Recently, the Commonwealth Court of PA answered this question and put a smile on the face of this PA workers’ comp attorney.

In Consol PA Coal Co. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, the injured worker broke his arm. His treating orthopedic surgeon eventually released him to return to work, without restriction. Rather than offer him a job, the Employer instead filed a Petition to Suspend his workers’ compensation benefits. Employer took the position that if the injured worker had no physical limitations, the loss in wages could not possibly be due to the work injury.

The Commonwealth Court disagreed with the Employer (as had the Workers’ Compensation Judge and the WCAB below), holding that to win a Petition for Suspension, an Employer must prove a job was actually available to the injured worker. Without this evidence, the Employer could not prevail.