Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court: Experts Need Not Be Eyewitnesses
In a recent case, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld an injured worker’s right to ongoing medical benefits even though there was no medical evidence specifically documenting the ongoing disability.
The injured worker, Anthony Fitzgerald, sustained serious injuries when he fell from a roof and landed on a cement slab on March 16, 2009. Mr. Fitzgerald treated with a Dr. Collins who last examined Mr. Fitzgerald on November 25, 2009. Dr. Collins testified that at that last visit he anticipated that Mr. Fitzgerald would be able to return to work in about six weeks. However, Mr. Fitzgerald was not able to return to work and he testified regarding his continuing problems with headaches, poor balance, and pain in his left eye. The Workers’ Compensation Judge awarded Mr. Fitzgerald benefits on an ongoing basis without any set cut-off date.
The employer in this case was not carrying workers’ compensation insurance. Therefore, the case was defended by the Pennsylvania Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund (UEGF). The UEGF argued on appeal that the Workers’ Compensation Judge erred in awarding benefits to Mr. Fitzgerald beyond November 25, 2009. The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court both rejected the UEGF’s argument that there was insufficient evidence to warrant an award of benefits beyond November 25, 2009. The Court held that, “Although Dr. Collins anticipated that Claimant would be able to return to work, the WCJ correctly declined to suspend Claimant’s benefits based on his speculation.” The Court, in reviewing past relevant cases, affirmed that, ” a claimant’s medical expert is not required to be an eyewitness to the claimant’s disability throughout the pendency of a claim petition.”
The Court determined that claimant’s own testimony along with the medical testimony presented was a sufficient basis for the Workers’ Compensation Judge to make the award for ongoing benefits.
Getting the right medical treatment for your work injury is important to your health and well-being and contributes to a positive outcome in your workers’ compensation case. Banks Law has a network of the finest physicians in the Philadelphia area who will treat you with the respect you deserve.
For more information about medical treatment for work injuries, check out Erica Burry’s video Treating With The Right Doctor Under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation.