Filing of a Claim That a Psychiatric Condition Arose As a Direct Result of His Work-Related Back Injury
In Westinghouse Electric Corporation/CBS v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Korach), 584 Pa. 411, 883 A.2d 579 (2005), the claimant sustained a work-related injury in the nature of a "back sprain" and began receiving disability benefits pursuant to an Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP).
Five years later, the claimant and his employer entered into a supplemental agreement reducing his benefits to partial disability and then commuting them to a lump sum payment of $ 77,000.
Westinghouse remained liable for claimant's medical expenses.
Although Westinghouse paid for claimant's psychiatric care from 1989 to 1998, it ceased doing so when an internal review discovered that a psychiatric injury was not included in the NCP.
Claimant filed a claim petition in 1998, alleging that his 1984 back injury had precipitated a psychiatric injury. Westinghouse answered by asserting that the claim petition should be treated as a petition to review the NCP, and that it was time-barred under both Sections 315 and 413 of the Act.
On appeal, the Supreme Court explained the critical distinction between the statute of repose in Section 315, which acts to bar the filing of a new claim, and the statute of limitations in Section 413(a), which acts to bar amendments to previously filed claims.
Reiterating its holding in Jeanes Hospital, the Court dispelled the notion that a claim petition must be filed in order to add further injuries to an NCP, either arising at the time of the work-related incident or flowing from the recognized work-related injury. ... Section 413(a) of the Act provides the appropriate procedure to amend an NCP to add related injuries. Id. at 427, 883 A.2d at 589.
The Court concluded that the filing of a claim petition pursuant to Section 315 was erroneous because the claimant was alleging that his psychiatric condition arose as a direct result of his work-related back injury.