Act 111 of 2018 - The Rebirth of IRE's
To the detriment of injured workers, Employers throughout Pennsylvania achieved a victory when Governor Tom Wolf signed H.B. 1840 into law as Act 111 of 2018 on October 24, 2018. This piece of legislation immediately reinstated the IRE aspect of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Ever since
The New LawThe legislature has now attempted to cure the invalid portion of the old IRE law by having the IRE performed based on the American Medical Association *Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment,* 6th Edition (the unconstitutional version allowed the *most recent* edition of the Guides and much confusion arose from various versions being used by physicians as well). Employers complained that as a result of the IRE process being halted by the Court in Protz, their workers* compensation insurance costs sky rocketed. As a result of this supposed increase, they lobbied the legislature hard to have a *fix* implemented as soon as possible. Their real motive though can point towards their fear that they were without a mechanism by which to reduce the likelihood of a possibility of lifetime benefits for injured workers.
Benefit to Injured WorkersThe legislature did at least make one concession which benefits injured workers. They reduced the percentage to retain total disability status from the absurdly high 50% down to 35%. The reduction is still not realistic as it is still far higher than a realistic percentage that would accurately reflect a person who is really totally disabled, but we will take any reduction as a welcome overture from the legislation.
Employers and their insurance companies will no doubt start filing requests for IRE evaluations in the coming weeks and months or possibly litigate old IRE*s that were done under the 6th Edition of the AMA*s guide before Protz. If you receive such a notice or petition, contact the firm of Calhoon & Kaminsky and we can walk you through the process and help you protect your rights as an injured worker.