Missing Work To Seek Medical Treatment For A Work Injury

Date: July 26, 2011
Posted In: DLP Law
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          Dwight suffered a work injury to his low back while employed with Carter Strawberry Company. Fortunately, Dwight received excellent medical care from Dr. Hernandez and he was released to return to work with light duty lifting restrictions. Dr. Hernandez also prescribed an eight week course of physical therapy at Shea Therapy to assist in Dwight’s recovery. Dwight supplied his light duty slip to his shift supervisor, Mr. Johnson. Dwight was given a light duty job sorting empty fruit containers. After lunch break on Dwight’s first day back to work, Dwight was nowhere to be found. Mr. Johnson called Dwight’s cell phone but could not reach him. About 2 hours later, Dwight returned to the workplace and advised Mr. Johnson that he was at a physical therapy appointment which he scheduled in the middle of the day. Mr. Johnson asked Dwight if PT appointments were available after work hours. Dwight responded that there were PT appointment times available after work but Dwight chose not to schedule at that time as he liked to go home after work, relax and watch baseball games on television.  Dwight then asked Mr. Johnson if he would receive payment of “partial” workers compensation benefits for the time he was missing from work to attend PT sessions.

Question: Will Dwight be able to collect “partial” wage loss benefits for time missed from work to attend PT sessions in the middle of the work day?

Answer:  Probably not. The key issue is whether Shea Therapy offer physical therapy sessions during Dwight’s non-work hours. Pennsylvania Courts have determined that where there is evidence that medical treatment is readily available to a claimant during non-work hours, loss of time from work due to treatment does not amount to a work-related disability under the Pennsylvania Worker Compensation Act.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive.  Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column. 

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.