In June 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down part of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act, changing the way that the state assess workplace injuries, according to an article in the Insurance Journal.
The Workers’ Compensation Act allowed employers to demand that an injured worker receive an impairment rating evaluation (IRE). During an IRE exam, a physician would examine the injured person, then rate how impairing their injury or occupational illness was. This rating was used to determine long-term workers’ compensation benefits for the injured person.
To rate the level of impairment, the law required physicians to apply the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. These guides became the center of concern in the lawsuit that led to part of the Act being declared unconstitutional.
The state Supreme Court stated that using the AMA guidelines amounted to a violation of the state’s constitution, because it gave the AMA de facto control over how impairments were rated in workers’ compensation. The AMA is a private organization, not subject to the oversight or control of any government. In short, by requiring the AMA guidelines to be used, the state legislature had abdicated its control over the state’s methods for rating impairments—which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court says they may not do.
The state legislature will likely respond by creating a new system for rating impairments, so that IRE exams can proceed. Until they do so, however, Pennsylvania has no method for rating impairments, leaving certain workers’ compensation recipients uncertain as to their futures or their benefits.
If you’ve been injured on the job, an experienced Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the workers’ compensation system, hold any third parties accountable for contributing to your injuries, and secure the full and fair compensation you need. To speak with Attorney Smith and setup a free initial consultation, please call (412) 567-9598 or fill out our online contact form.