PA Supreme Court: Injured Worker Impairment Review Evaluations are Unconstitutional
Ruling to create havoc for employers, increase costs, disrupt workersâ€™ comp system
HARRISBURG (June 22, 2017) â€" The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a section of the stateâ€™s Workersâ€™ Compensation Act is unconstitutional because guides used by physicians for determining an employee’s level of disability come from a private source â€" the American Medical Association. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which represents 14,000 small businesses in Pennsylvania said the ruling puts employers in the untenable position of being unable to determine if an employee is permanently or just partially impaired and whether their benefits should continue.
â€œSmall businesses with a limited staff already have a difficult time when an employee goes on temporary disability. This court decision prevents a doctorâ€™s review of that worker’s progress and their ability to return to work,â€ said Kevin Shivers, executive state director of NFIB PA. â€œThis decision by the Supreme Court throws employers, and the stateâ€™s workersâ€™ comp system into total turmoil and significantly raises costs.
The case, Protz v WCAB (Derry Area School District), involved an employee who hurt her knee on the job. After temporary total disability leave and benefits, the worker was later evaluated by a physician and found to be only 10-percent disabled. Her status was changed to reflect a partial disability and the duration of benefits became limited. The employee challenged the evaluation.
â€œAs a result of the courtâ€™s decision, employees found by licensed physicians to be just minorly disabled, are now likely to head to the courthouse seeking a reinstatement of full disability benefits,â€ said Shivers.
Due to the ruling, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workersâ€™ Compensation is immediately stopping the process of designating physicians to perform Impairment Rating Evaluations.
NFIB is the nationâ€™s leading small business advocacy association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small- and independent-business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIBâ€™s powerful network of grassroots activists send their views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting Americaâ€™s free enterprise system.