Injured worker can be awarded penalties if compensation is not reinstated

(6/25/2004) - A Workers’ Compensation Judge is permitted to award penalties to an injured claimant under the Workers’ Compensation Act even where there has been no award of compensation in the final order, the Commonwealth Court recently ruled in Theresa Palmer v. WCAB (City of Philadelphia). In a majority opinion issued on May 14, the Commonwealth Court reversed the order of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and reinstated the WCJ’s order granting claimant Theresa Palmer’s Penalty Petition in the amount of $5,000 for her employer’s termination of benefits without a supplemental agreement or order of a WCJ.

Palmer was a police officer who sustained a work-related injury to her right wrist on Aug. 1, 1993. She received workers compensation benefits up to Jan. 1, 1999 (she was terminated from employment in 1997). In March of 1999, she filed a petition to reinstate benefits and a penalty petition for wrongful termination of benefits. At the hearing, the employer introduced an agreement signed by Palmer to terminate benefits. The WCJ granted the Penalty Petition, but did not reinstate the claimant’s receipt of workers’ compensation benefits.