Published On: Wed, Apr 25th, 2018

Potential Changes in PA Workers Comp Regulation in 2018

A new workers compensation law is being introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature regarding asbestosis and other long latency diseases.

Pennsylvania House Bill 2207 is trying to combat civil lawsuits regarding illness as a result of hazardous materials like asbestos in the workplace, which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently allowed as a result of their decision in the Tooey v. AK Steel Corp. case.

photo/ jessica45

The bill reads, “claims filed for any disease for which the time period between exposure to the hazard of disease in the workplace and manifestation of disease is greater than 300 weeks must be filed within three hundred weeks of the date on which a claimant is diagnosed with the disease or the disease is detectable.”

This policy aims to include asbestos, mesothelioma and other diseases that don’t initially show symptoms under the “exclusive remedy” of the current state’s workers compensation policy.

An “exclusive remedy” provision allows the employer and worker to reach a settlement agreement that prohibits the worker from suing for any additional compensation, as defined by Insureon.com.

The bill’s memorandum states that this proposed law is similar to one already enacted in the state of Ohio.

The Supreme Court likely allowed the civil lawsuit to proceed in the case of Tooey v. AK Steel Corp. because 300 weeks is just under six years. Thus, the law does not protect workers from long latency diseases like asbestosis, where symptoms from exposure take about 20 years to become apparent (Healthline.com).

The bill’s prime sponsor is Republican Representative Eli Evankovich, representing parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, comprising the southern part of Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs.

Businessinsurance.com reports that the bill is sponsored by 10 other state representatives in Pennsylvania.

The impact of the Tooey v. AK Steel Corp. case was discussed in a recent International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) newsletter.

IADC members note that the effects are already apparent in the state of Pennsylvania. after In November 2015, plaintiff Doris Busbey (Busbey v. Yarway Corp.) was awarded a $1.7 million jury verdict against her deceased husband’s employer. The lawsuit was in connection with his mesothelioma diagnosis that occurred after the expiration of the 300-week window prescribed by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

Another case regarding workman’s compensation regulations in Pennsylvania is related to the chiropractic field.

In terms of worker’s compensation payments, Philadelphia worker’s comp lawyer Mark Schmidt explains that they are generally divided into two categories: medical benefits and wage-loss benefits.

PropertyCasualty360.com reports that the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has already reached a verdict regarding chiropractor visits.

It has been decided that workers comp claimants are entitled to procedures performed by a licensed chiropractor, but cannot receive payment for routine office visits or “check ups.”

Author: Adam Gingery

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