Commonwealth Court Issues Decision In Untimely IRE Case

Date: April 27, 2009

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently issued a decision in a case involving an Impairment Rating Evalaution (IRE) that was not requested within the statutory time frame, i.e. within 60 days of the claimant’s receipt of 104 weeks of temporary total disability (TTD) wage loss benefits. This issue had previously been discussed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Gardner v. WCAB (Genesis Health Ventures). In Gardner, the Court held that an employer may request a claimant to submit to an IRE more than 60 days after the date the claimant comes into possession of 104 weeks of TTD benefits. Gardner also held that to modify the claimant’s benefit status from total to partial, the employer must seek a change in status via “the traditional administrative process”. Since the Gardner decision was issued in 2005, the question has been “what is meant by the traditional administrative process”?
In Diehl v. IA Construction, the Commomwealth Court addressed this issue. THe Court ruled that the defendant’s actions in securing an IRE under 50% (in the Diehl case, 28%), filing a Petition to Modify Benefit Status, and the presentation of the IRE findings into evidence was sufficient to meet the defendant’s burden of proof. Accordingly, the Diehl Court modified the claimant’s benefits status from total to partial and wage loss benefit entitlement was capped at 500 weeks.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.