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Be aware of employers who don't cooperate with workers' comp claims, P.1

When it comes to workers' compensation, employers do not always cooperate with employees seeking to file a claim or with other aspects of the process. In this and the next post, we'll look at a couple recent Pennsylvania court cases which highlight this issue.

The first case we'll talk about involves a truck driver for Kennett Square Specialties who hurt his back in 2008 and who subsequently was unable to work. The company paid the worker temporary workers' compensation benefits for one month before they were terminated. After termination, the worker filed a claim not only for workers' compensation but also for medical bills and lost wages.

During the workers' compensation hearing process, attorneys for the company sought to make an issue of the fact that the worker came to the United States from Ecuador 1998 by asking whether he was a naturalized citizen or whether he had a green card. The worker ultimately chose not to respond to such questions, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

On appeal, it was determined that the decision to remain silent could not be used as proof of the allegation that the worker was illegally in the United States. A later appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the worker was not responsible for disproving the allegations-that it was instead the task of the employer to show that he was working illegally in the United States. Because the employer failed to do that, it was determined that the employer should not have stopped workers' compensation payments.

Not every case in which employers fail to cooperate in workers' compensation cases results in a decision favorable to the employee. In our next post, we'll look at a case in which the employer was vindicated.

Business Insurance, "Pleading the Fifth on immigration status no bar to workers comp benefits in Pa.," Sheena Harrison, July 23, 2014.

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