Workers Compensation Medical Testimony

Date: July 20, 2011
Posted In: DLP Law
          The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has ruled that a physician’s testimony was sufficient to support a finding that there was no objective evidence to support workers’ compensation claimant’s subjective complaints of back pain.
           In Schmidt v. W.C.A.B. (IATSE Local 3), the employer had filed a Petition to Terminate compensation benefits based upon the opinions of a physician who had evaluated Mr. Schmidt and opined that he had sustained a lumbar strain with a disc herniation which was completely resolved by surgery. The testifying doctor also stated that Schmidt had pre-existing conditions in his back which were not aggravated by the work injury, with the possible exception of the pars defect- a congenital crack in the spine-which caused the bone at the L4 level to slip behind the spine. The doctor explained that a herniated disc does not usually require a fusion, but that a fusion was necessary in Schmidt’s case because of the congenital crack. He opined that the aggravation of Schmidt”s congenital crack caused by his work injury, if any, was resolved by the fusion. Therefore, his work-related disability had ceased, and Schmidt could return to work with no restrictions.
The Court ruled that a termination of benefits was proper reasoning that the doctor’s testimony that Schmidt may have some back pain with change in the weather from time to time did not support an inference that physician found objective medical findings for claimant’s pain.
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.