Workers' Compensation

Weber Gallagher defends employers in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey in workers’ compensation matters in union and non-union settings. We also routinely recover subrogation liens, institute fraud prosecutions, prepare and file amicus briefs and assist with legislative lobbying. Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business recognized the firm’s Workers’ Compensation practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 2019. Our clients include public and private employers, insurers, self-insured entities and third-party administrators, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. We appear before workers’ compensation judges and appellate panels, state courts and agencies, and at all federal court levels. Our work in the field includes:
  • Counseling clients on managing risk and averting litigation
  • Assisting with the design and implementation of return-to-work programs
  • Helping coordinate workers’ compensation policies for multistate businesses
  • Handling matters related to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, Merchant Marine Act (the Jones Act), and Mine Safety and Health Administration

Our Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Group attorneys have been closely following the Protz v WCAB (Derry Area School District) ruling and how it will affect employers. The unexpected decision by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that Impairment Rating Evaluations (IRE) are unconstitutional if they were performed using any edition of the AMA Guides of Permanent Impairment beyond the 4th Edition.  Click here to review our detailed materials about this decision.

  • The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board affirmed the Workers' Compensation Judge's (WCJ) denial of the Claim Petition that alleged a work-related carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive duties performed by an electrician. The Board agreed with the WCJ that the claimant’s medical evidence was inadequate to support an award of benefits. The Board also determined that the Doctor's opinion was equivocal and legally incompetent because he reported contradictory causation opinions in different reports.

  • Successfully defended a Claim Petition involving significant wage loss and medical exposure due to multiple trauma surgeries and post-surgical complications. The case was bi-furcated to address a course and scope issue. The Workers’ Compensation Judge found that the claimant was not in the course and scope of employment and denied the Claim Petition. As a result, the employer was not responsible for over $150,000.00 of hospital bills as well as significant ongoing medical and wage loss exposure.

  • Successfully prosecuted a Termination Petition and defended against a Review Petition for a more expansive description of the injury and surgical treatment that the claimant underwent during the litigation. The Workers’ Compensation Judge granted the Termination Petition and denied the Review Petition on the basis that the claimant was not credible and that employer’s medical experts were more credible than the claimant’s treating surgeon. The Workers’ Compensation Judge stopped all medical and wage loss benefits related to the accepted injury and found that the employer was not responsible for any medical benefits related to the Review Petition including the surgery the claimant underwent during the course of the litigation. The employer obtained a sizeable supersedeas fund recovery and did not have to pay any of the outstanding medical bills.

  • Successfully defended a Claim Petition, alleging a head injury and psychological injuries with ongoing disability. The Workers’ Compensation Judge denied the Claim Petition finding that Claimant was not credible and did not sustain a work-related injury. As a result, the employer was not responsible for any of the medical bills or wage loss benefits.

  • Successfully obtained multiple Petitions to Enforce Subpoenas of various pharmacies in the Court of Common Pleas in connection with various Penalty Petitions and Fee Reviews involving suspected physician self-referral issues. Enforcement of these subpoenas has often time led to various successful outcomes in those settings resulting in significant savings with respect to potential medical exposure.

  • Represented a global insurer and real estate company in regards to a claim petition filed by a moderate-to-heavy duty maintenance worker, alleging ongoing, disabling back and head injuries, by presenting defense evidence to show the workers' compensation judge (WCJ) that work injury did not occur. Before the WCJ decision, the latest demand to settle was $135,000 plus payment of medical expenses and costs. Based upon the defense evidence presented, including security footage, testimony from multiple fact witnesses and cross-examination of the claimant concerning his alleged story, symptoms, and treatment - the WCJ awarded no benefits.

  • Prepared an Amicus Curiae brief on behalf of the Pennsylvania Chambers of Commerce and multiple insurance carriers before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

  • Prevailed in a carrier versus carrier case where Review and Joinder Petitions were filed by the Claimant’s employer, a subcontractor, and its insurance carrier. The subcontractor sought reimbursement from, and a shifting of all or a pro-rata share of future liability to the general contractor and its insurance carrier pursuant to a “wrap-up” workers’ compensation insurance policy. Under the policy, the general contractor agreed to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees of subcontractors, but only when injured on the project site. Any injuries occurring off the project site were to be covered by the subcontractor’s workers’ compensation policy. The case was complicated by the fact that both carriers utilized the same TPA, raising questions as to how coverage decisions were made. The subcontractor did not dispute that the Claimant’s injury occurred off-site, but argued there may have been other instances in which general contractor paid for an injury that occurred off-site, thereby precluding the general contractor’s denial of liability based on past practice. The subcontractor subpoenaed records from the general contractor, seeking a review of any and all claims paid. We objected to the subpoena as overly broad and unduly burdensome given the scale of the project at issue, and asserted that the subcontractor was estopped from denying liability based on the clear and unambiguous language of the underlying policies. The WCJ sustained our objection to the subpoena of general contractor’s file and denied the subcontractor’s Review and Joinder Petitions on the merits.

  • Successfully defeated a claim petition for psychological injuries. The Claimant, a third-shift cashier at a convenience store, alleged that she sustained PTSD and anxiety following two armed robberies. While the medical experts in the case acknowledged that Claimant had evidence of work-related PTSD, the WCJ found that Claimant failed to provide timely and adequate notice of the work injury, and so denied the Claim Petition. Claimant appealed and the WCAB affirmed the WCJ’s Decision.  

  • Successfully prosecuted a termination petition to a full recovery adjudication for a national retailer and its third-party administrator. The claimant had an accepted shoulder injury requiring surgery and then a resultant adhesive capsulitis. The claimant received total disability benefits. In defense of the termination petition, the claimant argued she needed to undergo another surgery. Before the Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) Decision, the claimant had presented a $145,000 settlement demand. Using key emergency room records, diagnostic studies, and an intraoperative findings to persuade the WCJ to grant this employer relief in an otherwise unresolvable medical contest.

  • Successfully defended a claim before the Appellate Division on a question of insurance coverage and whether the policy was in effect at the time of injury. The policy at issue was provided to a subcontractor hired by our insured. The claim was initially filed in Pennsylvania where the injured worker lived, and his employer was located. Based on Pennsylvania law, it appeared that the carrier canceled the workers' compensation insurance coverage for non-payment. The injured worker then chose to pursue his claim in New Jersey, where the injury occurred. He also received medical treatment in New Jersey totaling over $1.3 million for an extended hospital stay due to his severe burns. The insurance carrier for the subcontractor attempted to argue that there was no coverage in place in New Jersey at the time of the accident as the insurance carrier did not operate nor write policies in New Jersey. The insurance carrier claimed cancellation of the Pennsylvania policy was transferable to New Jersey and, therefore, there was no need to show proper cancellation in New Jersey. However, the insurance carrier did not deny that New Jersey was not excluded under the policy. After briefs were submitted, and without oral argument, the Appellate Division denied the Motion for Leave to Appeal and dismissed the Notice of Motion for Appeal.

  • Successfully defended a motion for medical treatment involving a claim where the petitioner had two work-related accidents within months of each other with alleged injury to the hip in both claims, among other injuries. The petitioner filed a Motion for Medical and Temporary Disability Benefits seeking hip surgery recommended by her expert for a labral tear. This contrasted with the respondent’s expert who found no discrete tear from an accident and no need for treatment. After testimony by the petitioner and both experts, all conducted using Zoom, the Judge entered an Order denying the Motion for failure to sustain the burden of proof. While the Judge noted the petitioner was a credible individual, the issue turned on causation to which the Judge looked to the experts. The Judge found the respondent’s expert to be more thorough in his explanations of his conclusions during testimony and in his ability to explain his review of the MRI study as well as being able to show the MRI during testimony.

  • Successfully defended a claim before the Appellate Division affirming a Trial Court's decision that a Bihler operator did not suffer hearing loss during the course and scope of his employment. The Judge of Compensation found a lack of credible evidence to prove petitioner suffered physical injuries and hearing loss as a result of excessive noise exposure based on petitioner’s inconsistent testimony, the records of the treating doctors, and petitioner’s expert testimony, which provided no basis for the diagnosis, as well as an inconsistent narrative of the facts of the case. The Appellate Court held that the judge's factual and credibility findings were amply supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record, and there was no basis to disturb them.

  • Successfully prosecuted an employer's Petition for Termination of all workers' compensation benefits. In reaching this decision, the Judge credited the testimony of the IME physician, that the claimant fully recovered,  over that of the claimant and his treating physician regarding ongoing pain and disability.

  • Successfully defended a Claim Petition, alleging a work-related aggravation of left knee arthritis necessitating a total knee replacement with various periods of disability. The employer was not responsible for medical expenses, disability benefits or litigation costs. The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) concluded that the claimant failed to prove timely notice to the employer of the alleged injury from March 2017. The WCJ also concluded that the claimant failed to prove through medical evidence her left knee condition was caused or aggravated by a work incident or by general work activities.

  • Resolved a complex, high-exposure lumbar spine injury requiring multiple surgeries in an expeditious manner resulting in minimal litigation costs and a prompt stoppage of ongoing payments of indemnity and medical benefits. In doing so, it protected a subrogation lien valued at over $400,000.00, which the client recently fully recovered.

  • Received a favorable decision from the Appeal Board affirming the denial of a Claim Petition alleging head injury resulting in nearly a million dollars in medical expenses and future care. Although Claimant testified the injury occurred when he was alone, multiple co-workers who were working with Claimant that day helped piece together the event to establish that no such injury occurred.  

  • Successfully defended Claim and Penalty Petitions. The employee filed the petitions against a family-owned packaging company. The Workers’ Compensation Judge rejected the employee’s credibility based on significant inconsistencies Ventre established relative to the employee’s testimony, and that of her co-workers and contents of medical records. The Workers' Compensation Judge also credited the testimony of the IME doctor, who, like The Judge, found the employee to be evasive. This was a significant win for the employer as the employee was pursuing a claim for very serious injuries, including alleged multi-level lumbar and cervical disc herniations and radiculopathy with a reported need for surgery. As a result of the decision, the client avoids liability for wage loss and medical benefits, which could have eclipsed six figures. The employer has no liability for penalties or reimbursement of the employee’s litigation costs. 
  • Successful in defending a Reinstatement and Review Petition of an employee who tripped and fell at work, injuring her knee.  Claimant was terminated for cause post-injury, and alleged injuries to multiple body parts other than the knee.  The Judge found claimant’s injury to be limited to a knee contusion, that claimant’s wage loss was not related to her work injury, and found her fully recovered from the knee contusion based on credible testimony of employer’s medical expert.

  • Successfully tried a Motion for lack of coverage.  In this matter, petitioner alleged injuries sustained in a MVA.  The claim was denied as petitioner, the owner of the company, had excluded himself from coverage under the policy.  Nonetheless, following the accident, petitioner claimed that he did not know that he specifically excluded himself from coverage. Emails were submitted to the court indicating that petitioner was given information about different policy premiums for coverage and non-coverage.  The emails further indicated that he had previously excluded himself on an earlier policy.  The motion was tried and testimony was taken both from the insurance broker and of the petitioner. The Judge did not find the petitioner credible noting that he frequently changed his answers when confronted with documents that contradicted his assertions. As such, the Judge granted our dismissal with prejudice.  Respondent avoided being on the hook for payment of medical treatment for multiple injuries and temporary disability benefits.

  • Successfully prosecuted a termination petition and obtained a termination of benefits. In that matter, the claimant sustained a groin injury and underwent surgery, although, continued to have ongoing complaints and pursued medical treatment. The WCJ opted to terminate compensation in accordance with an IME opinion of full recovery. In this regard, the WCJ found the IME physician to be more knowledgeable and informed in terms of claimant’s condition as compared to claimant’s medical expert, who recently commenced treatment. The WCJ specifically took note that IME physician reviewed more of claimant’s medical records, was more familiar with the medical history, treatment and details regarding claimant’s work injury and employment history. Most crucial was the fact the WCJ was persuaded by IME physician’s explanation for the claimant’s ongoing complaints, which he attributed to an unrelated urological condition, something discounted by claimant’s treating physiatrist. As a result of the decision, the client is able to avoid liability for claimant’s ongoing medical treatment, including medications, and is not responsible for reimbursement of counsel’s litigation costs which total nearly $3,000. Once the decision is final, the client will be able to pursue a sizable supersedeas reimbursement sum for medical benefits paid out over the last year.

  • Successfully defended against an appeal filed by the Claimant. In this matter, the Claimant sustained an injury to her face and eye. WCJ terminated compensation in accordance with an IME of full recovery. In response to Claimant’s appeal, the WCAB reviewed the evidence of record, and concluded that the WCJ did not err, and his decision was supported by his credibility determinations of the witnesses involved. The WCAB also highlighted that the Claimant bore the burden of establishing a causal relation between her work and additional alleged injuries by unequivocal medical evidence, which was unable to be met by virtue of the WCJ’s rejection of her medical experts’ testimony. The WCAB went on to conclude that there was adequate evidence to support the WCJ’s findings, and rejected Claimant’s assertion of error from a substantial evidence perspective. Once the decision is final, the client will be able to pursue a sizable supersedeas reimbursement sum, which is expected to exceed $40,000.

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