Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Friday, May 1, 2015

Nurse Receives Workers' Compensation Benefits for Occupational Asthma

Can one continue to receive workers' compensation benefits even after recovering from an occupational injury and going back to work elsewhere?

Nancy Little worked as a full-time registered nurse at a Pennsylvania hospital until the floor wax they used caused such severe asthma that she was unable to perform her duties. Although she recovered and was able to return to work elsewhere part-time, an appellate court ruled that she is entitled to workers' compensation benefits for her occupational asthma.

As a full-time nurse at Select Specialty Hospital, Little experienced frequent breathing difficulties that forced her to leave work. Emergency room treatment helped temporarily, but each time she returned to her job, her breathing problems resumed. She ultimately gave up working at the hospital and sought total disability worker's compensation benefits, which her employer denied.

Little later accepted a part-time nursing job at Altoona Hospital, explaining to them that she had been allergic to the floor wax used by her previous employer. Altoona Hospital switched to a different floor wax, and Little no longer experienced breathing problems.

Relying on testimony from Little and a toxicologist, a Pennsylvania workers' compensation judge ruled that Little's disability had been due to exposure to a chemical in the floor wax used at Select Specialty Hospital and granted Little's request for benefits.

Little appealed the judge's award of partial disability benefits, arguing that she should continue to receive benefits from Select Specialty Hospital because she was unable to return to work full time after leaving there and experienced a loss in wages. The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeal Board rejected her argument, finding that Little had recovered and failed to prove residual impairment.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court unanimously reversed the decision stating that Little's inability to return to the hospital entitled her to additional workers' compensation benefits. According to the court, all she needed to prove was that her health problem arose in the course of employment, that it was related to her employment and that she could not return to her former workplace because the problem would recur. Those conditions were met.

The attorneys at Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates, P.C., have the experience and knowledge to successfully guide your workers' compensation claim. We serve the Philadelphia metropolitan area with convenient locations in the city of Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Montgomery County and Chalfont, Bucks County. Contact us today at (610)239-7600 or (888)818-4343 to arrange a consultation.

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