How Does A Non-Work-Related Injury Affect Workers’ Compensation Eligibility?

Workers' Compensation Eligibility

Workers' Compensation EligibilityEntitlement to workers’ compensation benefits is not always as cut-and-dry as you may think.

There are countless scenarios to take into consideration when determining an employees eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.

The Law Offices of Greenbaum & Pinto wants to help guide you through the process and explain your rights as an employer.

The Scenario

Recently, in the case of Reichert v. WCAB (Foxdale Village), No. 2080 C.D. 2014 (Decision by Judge Leadbetter, September 10, 2015), a woman employed in Pennsylvania had taken some time off of work to recover from a non-work-related injury to her back. After a period of time working with a back specialist, she felt she was well enough to return to work, and immediately contacted her employer.

Her employer was cautious and wanted to confirm that she was, in fact, physically capable of returning to her job as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant, and requested that she seek a release from her doctor clearing her for work.

The doctor asked her to seek a functional capacity evaluation (FCE), during which she suffered further injury to her back and was once again unable to return to work. Consequently, she filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

After filing her claim, she was informed that she was not entitled to compensation.

The Ruling

Even though her employer required the evaluation (and even offered to pay for the test), the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania determined that the employer was not liable to pay compensation since the test was a prerequisite to the employee returning to work after being out on disability from a non-work-related injury.

This ruling is only related to non-work-related injuries. If this employee had been out for work-related injuries, and had further injured herself during her FCE, she would have qualified for workers’ compensation benefits.

While this may seem unfair to the employee, it is important to remember that the employer also has rights during this process, and should never be required to pay benefits for non-work-related injuries.

If you have any questions regarding the defense of a workers’ compensation claim, it is always best to seek legal advice in order to determine if you are within your rights before taking action.

Click here to speak with an attorney at The Law Offices of Greenbaum & Pinto about any workers’ compensation questions you may have.

*For more information on the matter referenced in the above post, click here.