Denial of Payments for Home Modifications for Paraplegic As a Result of Work-Related Injury
In Bomboy v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (South Erie Heating Co.), 132 Pa. Commw. 169, 572 A.2d 248 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1990), Bombay suffered a work-related injury that rendered him a paraplegic.
South Erie Heating Company (South Erie) "provided for the installation of hand controls on the claimant's Bombay's automobile and for the modification of claimant's basement into a wheelchair-accessible living space, with a bedroom and a bathroom." Id. at 248.
In 1988, Bombay requested that additional modifications be made to his house "including an attached garage, a wheelchair lift, and utility cost reimbursements." Id. at 248.
South Erie denied payment for the requested modifications and Bombay petitioned for benefits. the referee denied the petition and the Board affirmed.
On appeal, this Court affirmed:
We note that the claimant's home in Reiger had not been previously modified to accommodate his wheelchair, as was the claimant's Bombay's home here . . . .
However, in the present case, the employer South Erie, at the claimant's Bombay's request, had previously modified the claimant's Bombay's home by installing a wheelchair-accessible bedroom and bathroom in the claimant's Bombay's basement. These modifications, costing approximately $ 5,000.00, converted the claimant's Bombay's basement into living quarters for the claimant Bombay.
Although we agree that Reiger requires an employer to provide home modifications at the employer's expense, such modifications are limited to a '. . . one-time expenditure.'
In this case, the employer South Erie previously modified the home in which the claimant Bombay presently lives. Thus, no additional modifications are warranted under Reiger.
. . . .Because additional home modifications would result in a substantial cost burden on the employer, and because the claimant Bombay proposed no alternatives, we conclude that Reiger does not support the claimant's Bombay's request for an attached garage and a wheelchair lift. Bomboy, 572 A.2d at 250.