Commonwealth Court rules on workers\’ compensation claim hearing loss

Date: December 19, 2006

The Pa. Commonwealth Court, in a decision issued 11/2/06, has ruled that a workers\’ compensation claim for work-related hearing loss must be filed within three years of the employee\’s last exposure to occupational noise, not within three years of when the employee discovered the hearing loss was work-related.

According to the opinion issued in City of Scranton v. WCAB, Frank Roche had been a police officer for the city of Scranton from 1957 to 1992. In 2003, approximately ten years after retiring, Roche filed a claim petition with the Bureau of Workers\’ Compensation alleging he sustained an occupational noise-induced hearing loss as a result of his employment with the city. Roche alleged that he discovered his hearing loss was work-related in 2002 after a doctor completed an exam of his ears and confirmed that his hearing impairment was attributed to exposure to occupational noises.

In the initial proceeding before the Workers’ Compensation Judge, Roche prevailed and the claims was granted. The Appeal Board uphheld the Judge’s decision finding that the claim was not time-barred because Roche had given the city timely notice of his impairment once it was discovered. The employer appealed and the Commonwealth Court reversed the Board\’s decision, citing Section 306(c)(8)(viii) of the Workers\’ Compensation Act, which states, in pertinent part: “[An occupational hearing loss] claim shall be barred unless a petition is filed within three years after the date of last exposure to the hazardous occupational noise.”

Thomas P. Cummings, Esq.

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.