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On June 20, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a landmark Decision in Protz v. WCAB, eradicating Impairment Rating Evaluations under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. The Court found that the IRE process was not constitutional because the legislature cannot delegate its authority to issue impairment rating guidelines to a non-legislative body (here, the American Medical Association).
This is an extraordinary Decision as it prevents insurers/employers from trying to cap their exposure on claims where an employee has reached 104 weeks of temporary total disability benefits and has reached MMI- maximum medical improvement. Before Protz, the IRE process was a way to see the light at the end of the tunnel- as the vast majority of ratings came in under 50% which gave the insurers/employers their 500 week cap for wage loss benefits.
For cases where the IRE process was complete prior to Protz, it is not yet clear what will occur. But moving forward, there are no more IREs. This is great news for injured workers. The IRE process was unfair to begin with- many horribly injured workers who couldn’t work, would still come in under the %50 benchmark, and be capped at 500 weeks- thereby lowering the value of their settlements. Now, that’s off the table and insurers/employers will have to rely upon vocational assessments and job offers to curb their exposure for wage loss claims. (short of a full recovery opinion)
If you have had an Impairment Rating done in your case, call Cardamone Law for a free analysis. (215) 206-9068 or email Michael@CardamoneLaw.com
Cardamone Law, LLC is a specialty work comp firm for injured workers. 7 days a week.