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Workers’ Compensation Case Summaries

Widow’s Benefits

Our Client was a widow whose husband had died in a work-related accident in March of 2013, and as a result, she was receiving weekly wage loss benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. These wage loss benefits were payable to her as a surviving spouse until she remarried or unless it was determined that she had entered into a "meretricious" relationship. The Pennsylvania Courts have defined a meretricious relationship as one in which the widow is living with another, in a carnal way, without the benefit of marriage. In December 2016, the employer filed a Petition to Terminate our Client’s benefits alleging that the widow was currently engaged in a meretricious relationship. The employer was required to produce direct evidence of a carnal relationship to meet its burden of proof. In this case, the employer produced evidence in the form of the Client’s Facebook page wherein she declared that she was romantically involved with her paramour and that they were in love. Our client acknowledged that she and her paramour had been living together at the time the Petition was filed, but asserted that they were no longer engaged in a sexual relationship. The attorneys at Schemery Zicolello argued that the Client’s declaration that she was involved in a "romantic relationship" with her live-in boyfriend was insufficient under the law to satisfy the employer’s burden of proving by direct evidence the existence of a sexual relationship with her boyfriend. While still in litigation, Schemery Zicolello negotiated a lump sum settlement in the amount of $175,000, which represented six (6) years of future weekly wage loss benefits.

Work-Related Herniated Disc

Our Client, a 58 year old food service delivery driver, slipped while making a delivery and suffered a disc herniation at L4-L5. After hiring Schemery Zicolello, the Client began receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits for his work-related back injury. The employer and its insurance company then hired a vocational expert to perform a Labor Market Survey and Earning Power Assessment in an effort to decrease or eliminate future wage loss benefits payable to our Client. The employer’s vocational expert concluded that work within our Client’s physical restrictions was available in the local labor market, and that our Client had an earning capacity that would result in a significant reduction in his weekly benefit amount. Upon receiving this opinion, the employer filed a Petition to Modify or reduce our Client’s benefits with the Workers’ Compensation Judge. The attorneys at Schemery Zicolello filed a Petition to expand the description of Claimant’s injury to include his adjacent lumbar level. Schemery Zicolello defended against the Petition filed by the employer by arguing that our Client had no particular skills that would allow him to return to alternative work, and that he had no customer service experience; nor was he physically able to perform the jobs identified by the defense vocational expert. Schemery Zicolello asked for an award of attorney fees since the employer had no reasonable basis to refuse to expand the description of injury. In the course of litigation, Schemery Zicolello negotiated a lump sum settlement for our Client in the amount of $230,000. During the time the Client was represented by Schemery Zicolello, he received wage loss benefits in excess of $400,000.

Injury at Work

An employee from Williamsport, PA working as a heavy equipment operator suffered a work injury which the employer and its insurance company formally described only as a left knee strain. Schemery Zicolello filed a Petition to Review Compensation Benefits to expand the description of injury to include the diagnosis of "anterior cruciate ligament tear along with the medial collateral ligament tear, a subchondral fracture of the posterior lateral tibial plateau and a chondral fracture of the medial facet of the patella." The employer and its insurance company responded by filing a Petition to Suspend Benefits arguing that work was available for the Client. The Client returned to work for one day but was incapable of continuing to work. The employer and its insurance company then stopped the payment of weekly wage loss benefits. Schemery Zicolello filed a Challenge Petition and was able to successfully have Claimant's benefits reinstated. The employer and insurance company continued in its efforts to end the payment of disability benefits to the Client by securing a Labor Market Survey which maintained that Client had an earning capacity, and that work was generally available in the community. While the case was actively being litigated, Schemery Zicolello ultimately negotiated a lump sum settlement of $115,000 via a Compromise and Release. Including the settlement, the injured worker received $216,401 combined in wage loss and medical benefits for his work injury.

Work-Related Arthritis

An employee with severe arthritis believed that her repetitive work duties had caused her to be disabled from work due to severe arthritis in both hands. After several rounds of litigation with the employer disputing the repetitive and physically demanding work that the Claimant had been performing for the employer for the last fifteen years, and medical testimony from an insurance company doctor indicating that the work duties had no impact on the arthritic degeneration in her hands, the employer offered to settle the case for $140,000.

Injury at Work

A retired man was hired to drive trucks over the road for an employer. He suffered a low back and hip injury while in Kansas on his first trip. The employer denied it had hired the injured employee and contended that he was an independent contractor, an argument that would have made him ineligible for workers compensation benefits if it had succeeded. Through litigation, a settlement was reached that covered all of the employee's medical expenses and replaced the earnings and future earnings he had lost due to the work injury.

Injury at Work

A corrections officer injured his back at work, and the state tried to terminate his benefits on the basis of an insurance company's doctor' opinion of full recovery. Through simultaneous litigation before the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, the officer settled his case for over $200,000 plus medical benefits and was able to keep his full retirement and pension benefits.

Slip and Fall at Work

Represented gas industry worker who fell on ice in the winter in the evening at a well site on State Park land in Clinton County, PA. suffering a compound ankle fracture requiring internal fixation with screws in a Workers Compensation Claim which was eventually resolved for a lump sum payment of $300,000. Also represented client in a negligence claim against the operators of the well site in a case settled for $300,000, bringing the total compensation paid on the claim to $600,000.

Widow's Benefits

Client who was widowed as a result of her husband's fatal work-related accident. A claim for widow benefits was filed and negotiated a lump sum settlement of $553,000.