Petitions to Add a Disability to a Previously Filed Notice of Compensation Payable

In Guthrie v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Keystone Coal Co.), 767 A.2d 634 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2001), this Court applied the statute of limitations found in Section 413(a) of the Act in reviewing petitions to add a permanent scar to a previously filed Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP) for a lip laceration and loosened teeth. There, the claimant sustained work-related injuries on April 10, 1980. After the claimant returned to work, his employer filed a termination petition, which was granted as of May 19, 1980. Then, in May 1998, the claimant filed another claim petition, which was amended to include a review petition, alleging that he had a disfiguring scar resulting from his 1980 work injury. The employer, thereafter, challenged the timeliness of the petitions. In its adjudication, the Workers' Compensation Judge (WCJ) determined that the claimant's petitions were barred by the time limitations of Sections 315 and 413(a) of the Act and the Board affirmed. This Court, while ultimately affirming the Board, conducted its analysis pursuant to Section 413(a) of the Act, and not Section 315 of the Act. The Court reasoned that, because the claimant had previously received benefits for a lip laceration and loosened teeth, which were terminated 5.3 weeks later pursuant to the employer's petition, the case had a "history" and, therefore, conducted our analysis pursuant to Section 413(a) of the Act. The Court went on to hold that "the WCJ could not review, modify or reinstate the applicable NCP because, undoubtedly, Claimant did not file his claim and review petitions 'within three years after the date of the most recent payment of compensation,' as required by Section 413(a)...." Id. at 638. Nevertheless, our reasoning in Guthrie instructs that [petitions for disfigurement benefits, in cases with a "history," should be analyzed pursuant to Section 413(a) of the Act.