Second Work-Related Injury With Different Insurance Companies

In Trenton China Pottery v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Mensch), 773 A.2d 1265 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2001), a claimant was receiving partial disability benefits following a return to employment, and was subsequently completely disabled as a result of a second work-related injury. Trenton China involved two different insurers - one who insured the employer at the time of the first work-related injury, and a different insurer at the time of the second injury. The Court reasoned therein that both injuries substantially contributed to the claimant's disability, and apportioned compensation between the two insurers such that the subsequent insurer was liable for benefits based upon claimant's average weekly wage (AWW) at the time of the second work injury, while the prior insurer was liable for partial disability benefits based upon the difference between the claimant's AWW at the time of the first work injury and his AWW at the time of the second work injury. Trenton China, 773 A.2d at 1268. As the Court have stated previously, the receipt of concurrent partial and total disability benefits, limited by the maximum allowable rate under the Act, is logically sound due to the fact that, but for the claimant's initial partial disability, he would have been receiving a higher wage at the time of the subsequent total disability. Reliable Foods, Inc. v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Horrocks), 660 A.2d 162 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995) (when first injury results in partial disability, it is presumed that claimant is incapable of earning pre-injury wage but potentially capable of returning to work with reduced earning capacity; receipt of concurrent benefits from two different insurers is permissible in successive-injury scenarios where maximum compensation benefit is not exceeded).