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Koutcher Wins Compensation Benefits and Review Petition

  • Jon Koutcher
  • 11/14/2013

An injured worker fell down steps, broke his neck and fractured his right wrist requiring surgery.  The injured worker had been receiving wage loss benefits since approximately 2007.  The Worker’s Compensation insurance carrier filed a Petition to Modify Compensation benefits based upon a labor market survey.  The insurance company argued that although the injured worker could not perform his time of injury sales position, he could return to work in a lighter duty capacity and thus had earning power.  The insurance company presented testimony from the vocational counselor who located jobs for the injured worker, and from the orthopedist who performed the independent medical evaluation for the insurance company.

The injured worker was represented by Philadelphia worker’s compensation lawyer Jonathan B. Koutcher, who presented the testimony of the injured worker and his treating physician.  Mr. Koutcher was able to successfully prove that the located jobs the subject of the labor market survey were not physically appropriate for the injured worker to perform as a result of his neck and wrist injuries.  The challenge was the jobs were essentially office and sedentary jobs.

Also of importance in this case was the filing of a Review Petition to expand the injured worker’s injuries to include chronic regional pain syndrome, a very painful and debilitating condition that can occur after a trauma or surgical procedure.  Mr. Koutcher was successful in having this diagnosis added to the injured worker’s list of accepted work injuries, and was a major reason the worker’s compensation judge denied the employer’s Modification Petition, as the chronic regional pain syndrome diagnosis was a credible explanation for why the injured worker could not use a computer mouse or handle paperwork in an office type position.

Filing a Review Petition can be a critical part of a case.  Technically, an insurance company is only liable for the specific injury accepted as work related.  Moreover, when an insurance company files a Petition to Terminate (stop) compensation benefits, it only has to prove that the specific, work related injury has fully resolved.  As a general rule of thumb, an insurance company will accept as work related the least severe of a injury (such as a strain, sprain or contusion).  In this case, the Review Petition served two purposes: first, to show the Judge the seriousness of the injured worker’s wrist injury and the symptoms associated with the diagnosis; and, secondly, to show the Judge that because of this painful condition, even a job that appears to be easy and not very physically demanding, such as an office job, is not appropriate for an injured worker with this type of diagnosis, chronic regional pain syndrome.

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