Monday, September 01, 2003

Commonwealth Court Again Recommends Use of Medical Only Notice of Compensation Payable

City of Philadelphia v. WCAB (Brown) is a case in which the Claimant, a corrections officer, fell on 9/17/94. The Employer's injury report included the description of injury to the left knee. The Claimant alleged other times her knee pain flared up while she was on duty, and the Employer apparently paid medical expenses and paid IOD benefits. In 1997 the Employer had an opinion from its panel physician that the Claimant's left knee condition was all degenerative.

The Claimant went off for her knee condition on 3/6/98. The Employer stopped paying meds as of 3/2/98 and on 4/21/98 issued an NCP for the 9/17/94 injury with a description of "contusions left hand and left leg, left wrist." The NCP presumably provided the Claimant was not disabled. On 6/5/98 the Claimant filed a Penalty Petition alleging the 4/21/98 NCP was issued late. On 7/13/98 the Employer filed a Termination/Suspension Petition alleging the Claimant returned to light duty on 7/4/96 and full duty on 1/14/97 without further disability.

The WCJ credited Claimant's physician's testimony that the 9/17/94 injury aggravated her underlying degenerative knee condition and dismissed the Employer's Petition. The WCJ found no violation of the Act but awarded TTD benefits beginning 3/6/98. The Board affirmed. The Commonwealth Court indicated the Employer should have issued a medical only NCP 21 days from the 9/17/94 date of injury. Since the authority for this is the 2003 case of Waldameer Park, no penalty was awarded.

The Employer also argued on appeal that under Commercial Credit, the Claimant's Claim set forth in her 6/5/98 Penalty Petition was barred by the statute of limitations. The Court stated the Employer could not use Commercial Credit as a sword. More to the point, the Commonwealth Court noted the Employer paid medical expenses up to 3/2/98 and the 6/5/98 Petition was therefore timely.

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