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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2016

    Default How Could This Ruling Effect North Carolina Cases. Could It Set Presedence

    Default Ire Found Unconstitutional in Pa
    On June 20, 2017, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Declares Impairment Rating Provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act to be Unconstitutional. The decision in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District) means that injured workers will no longer be subject to a cap on the length of wage loss benefits they received.

    In the 6-1 majority opinion authored by Justice Wecht, the Court concluded that the Pennsylvania legislature violated the state Constitution when it passed this provision because it (1) gave "unfettered discretion over Pennsylvania's impairment-rating methodology" to the American Medical Association, and (2) "did not include in ... any of the procedural mechanisms that this Court has considered essential to protect against 'administrative arbitrariness and caprice.'"

    Before the decision, Section 306(a.2) of Act permitted employers to require an injured worker to undergo an IRE after receiving 104 weeks of disability benefits. If the IRE physician determined that the injured worker's whole body impairment was less than 50 percent, as determined by the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, the worker was limited to 500 weeks of future wage losses. The Court held that the delegation of the impairment determination was impermissible because only the legislature can make those decisions.

    Anyone who has been subjected to an IRE should contact their attorney to discuss how this case affects their ongoing rights. This is true even if their benefits have already been modified or even suspended based upon the prior IRE.
    Timothy D. Belt, Esquire
    Helping injured workers in Northeast Pennsylvania.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    831 East Morehead St., Ste 355, Charlotte, NC 28202

    Default Re: How Could This Ruling Effect North Carolina Cases. Could It Set Presedence

    A Pennsylvania state court decision is pretty much irrelevant to NC law. It has "persuasive" authority at best, and is not "binding" authority. And NC does not use the AMA guidelines anyway, so it is also irrelevant for that reason. And NC has a different procedure for determining permanent disability, as well.
    The North Carolina Court of Appeals has held that "In contested Workers' Compensation cases today, access to competent legal counsel is a virtual necessity." Church v. Baxter Travenol Labs, Inc., and American Motorists Insurance Company, 104 N.C. App. 411, 416 (1991).

    Bob Bollinger, Attorney and Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers' Compensation Law

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