An employee from Delaware County, Pennsylvania in his late 20s was driving his vehicle while working when he was involved in a serious car accident. Initially, he was out of work for six months and then returned to work full duty. He then experienced seizure type events and started experiencing closed head trauma symptoms. The injured worker could no longer work and Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation attorney Jonathan B. Koutcher, of Pearson Koutcher Law filed several petitions, including a Reinstatement Petition. The employer and its worker’s compensation insurance carrier challenged that the injured worker’s symptoms were related to the original trauma, instead alleging the injured worker was predisposed to having seizures. Mr. Koutcher took testimony from two of the injured worker’s treating physicians during the case. The Judge found the evidence credible that the injured worker was still disabled. The injured worker is now able to again receive wage loss benefits into the future.
A Reinstatement Petition is a process that allows a worker who experiences a loss of earnings as a result of his or her original injury to reopen the initial claim. The typical scenario when a Reinstatement Petition needs to be filed is after the injured worker tries to return to work, benefits are then suspended or modified, and the injured worker then experiences an increase in symptoms resulting in a disability causing a further wage loss. Generally, a Reinstatement Petition needs to be filed within 500 weeks after the date of the last workers compensation payment.
Closed head injuries are becoming more prevalent, mainly because people are being educated about the symptoms associated with a closed head injury. Symptoms that were often overlooked previously are now being identified by injured workers even when other body parts are injured. A common closed head injury is a concussion. Typical symptoms of a concussion are headaches, vision and balance problems, dizziness and nausea, memory loss and mood swings. It is important to remember that the diagnoses of a closed head trauma, such as post concussion syndrome, is based on the constellation of symptoms reported by an injured worker. There is no “test” to confirm the presence of the symptoms, and an MRI or CT scan of the brain will not identify the cause of these symptoms. Also important is that an injured worker does not necessarily have to experience a trauma to the head for a closed head injury to occur; symptoms can develop after a whiplash type maneuver to the head or even due to a nearby explosion.
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