625 Stanwix Street, Suite 1404
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222
(412) 261-4774 - fax (412) 261-1225
Claimant, a seasonal employee, was injured on February 3, 1996, but kept working, with the assistance of his son, until April 1, 1996, the end of the season. The workers' compensation carrier paid Claimant's medical bills for various physical problems related to Claimant's neck, back, and hands, but the carrier did not issue an NCP for that injury date. On March 27, 1997, the carrier issued an NCP for an injury date of April 1, 1997, for cumulative trauma injuries initially described as "bilateral trigger fingers", then described in a corrected NCP as "strain both thumbs". On August 3, 1998, the carrier issued a Denial with respect to a February 3, 1996 injury. Claimant was "re-injured" on December 6, 1998, and went off work again.
The Commonwealth Court referred to Section 413(a) of the Act, and noted that a WCJ has the power, at any time, to review and modify or set aside an NCP if the NCP is materially incorrect, if the material mistake was made at the time the NCP was issued. The Court held that the WCJ properly amended the NCP to correct the injury date from April 1, 1996 to February 3, 1996, and to add Claimant's additional injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome and injuries to his neck and back.
In a footnote, the Court noted that "by failing to timely issue an NCP with respect to payments made for Claimant's unquestioned 'medical only' claim, Employer violated the mandates of section 407 of the Act...."
Practice Pointer: It is important to file an appropriate Bureau document in "medical only" claim, not simply issue payment to providers of medical services.