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Pennsylvania Supreme Court gives injured workers victory in vocational exam case

In the case of Phoenixville Hospital v Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, the Court ruled an employer seeking modification or suspension of wage loss benefits cannot meet it's burden of proof simply with proof that a vocational expert did a labor market survey and there are jobs existing in the local economy.  The employer must show there are open jobs that the injured worker actually can apply for.  They must prove the existence of a meaningful job opportunity, not just the identification of jobs from want ads or employment listings.  The employer must also prove the jobs remained open long enough to givea reasonable opportunity to apply for them.

     In response, the claimant can present evidence that the labor market survey was faulty.  For example, a claimant may be able to show their job application was rejected because the work didn't fit their residual physical abilities, skills, education, age, or work experience.  If a claimant offers credible evidence they were not hired because the position was already filled, the job does not exist for purposes of modifying or suspending wage loss benefits.

     This case shows how important it is for an injured worker to apply promptly for all jobs referred to them, even if they think the duties are not within their limitations.  It is also important to take note of the details of the applications.

     The rules that apply when an injured worker is asked to return to work are complicated and a mistake can be very costly.  For that reason, it is important to contact an experienced workers compensation lawyer for advise.

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