Did You Know…? In some cases injured workers’ are entitled to have modifications of their home or vehicle paid for by the workers’ compensation insurance company?
Generally, Section 306(f) of the PA Workers’ Compensation Act, provides for payment of reasonable medical expenses that are related a person’s work injury. These services include, among other things, surgery, medicines, supplies prosthesis, chiropractic care and even massages and acupuncture. Until the employer can establish that any or all of this care is not reasonable or necessary, bills for related medical treatment must be paid no later than 30 days after the insurance company receives the bill from the doctor. The Workers’ Compensation insurance company is only responsible for paying for treatment related to the claimed work injury. If you break your ankle at work, do not expect the workers’ compensation insurance company to pay for treatment for an unrelated heart condition.
In some cases, a person’s injury is so severe, that she might need more assistance than traditional medical care. What happens if a person is so severely injured that she can no longer drive? What happens if a person is so severely injured that she can no longer climb stairs to her own bedroom? In special circumstances, the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier may be liable to pay for modifications to an injured workers’ home or vehicle, when necessary, because of a work related injury.
The Courts in Pennsylvania have found that the remodeling of a home and modification of an automobile should be treated as necessary orthopedic appliances, that are eligible for payment. Enterprise Rent-A-Car v. WCAB (Clabaugh), 934 A.2d 124 (Pa.Cmwlth.2007). In one situation, PA Courts found that modifications to a vehicle weren’t enough to help an injured worker, and ordered the insurance co. to pay for the purchase price of a special van that could be outfitted with wheelchair lift. Griffiths v. WCAB (Seven Stars Farm, Inc.), 943 A.2d 242 (Pa.2008). The costs required to retrofit a van with hand controls and other modifications are the employer’s obligation under the Act. Petrilla v. WCAB (People’s Natural Gas), 692 A.2d 242 (Pa. 2008). Other medical supplies the insurance carrier is normally responsible for paying for include, wheelchairs, walkers, chair lifts, special beds ect.
Whether you can force the Workers’ Compensation insurance company to pay for modifications to your home or vehicle depends on the unique circumstances surrounding your work injury. Insurance Companies normally do not pay for these expensive items without a fight. That is why it is always important to have an experienced attorney protect your rights, and to fight for your best interests.