Supreme Court of PA accepts Appeal on Amending Description of Injury on NCP

In an earlier blog entry, I explained the process of workers’ compensation appeals in Pennsylvania. Since the Supreme Court of PA can accept only those appeals it wishes, very few workers’ compensation cases are heard by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, on May 19, 2008, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania announced that they have accepted the appeal in Cinram Manufacturing, Inc. v. W.C.A.B. (Hill), which had been decided last year by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. I say “unfortunately” because the decision had been favorable to injured workers, and seemed based on common sense.

In making its decision, the Commonwealth Court of PA found that a Workers’ Compensation Judge in Pennsylvania had the power to add to the description of injury, even if the injured worker did not file a Petition to Review the Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP). For example, in this case, a Petition for Termination was the only petition filed.

Previous decisions of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in years’ past, suggested that a Petition to Review the NCP would have to be filed for the Workers’ Compensation Judge to be able to amend the description of injury. On the other hand, many cases have also noted that the form of the pleadings is not fatal in PA workers’ comp, and that a Workers’ Compensation Judge is usually able to decide the case based on the evidence presented, generally without regard to the petitions actually pending.

Creating more strict requirements only makes PA workers’ compensation more dangerous for the unwary. We will keep you posted on this, and other decisions, as they happen.