Injured worker’s credible testimony was sufficient to meet the burden of proof that she was disabled
May 16, 2023
In Dukes v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Workers’ Compensation Judge found, and the Workers Compensation Appeals Board concurred that the injured worker’s credible testimony was sufficient to meet the burden of proof that she was disabled. The worker felt chest pain while performing work duties and went to MedExpress and was placed on modified duty. However, when she returned to work the next day, the employer did not accommodate those restrictions. The employer argued that a medical expert did not opine the worker was disabled and therefore she was not eligible for benefits. The Judge and the WCAB both noted that when the causal relationship between the work incident and the injury is not obvious, a medical expert opinion is needed. However, when the claimant’s testimony is found credible and the injury is obvious, a medical expert opinion is not needed – the credible testimony of the injured worker is enough. Then it was the employer’s burden to provide a modified duty position, which it did not do.
What does this mean? If the causal relationship between the work incident and the injury is not obvious, a medical expert opinion will be needed, but if the injury is obvious and the worker provides credible testimony, a medical opinion is not always necessary.