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Employer unsuccessfully argues that trauma care was unnecessary

There does not seem to be any disagreement about the fact that it was a work related injury when a priest working for the Diocese of Allentown fell on icy sidewalk. But there is a dispute about the treatment he received after he was injured in the fall. The employer refused to pay much of the cost, arguing that some of the care the priest received was not necessary.

The fall on the icy sidewalk led to potentially life-threatening injuries. The priest suffered two spinal fractures and also struck his head during the fall. He was on the icy sidewalk for several minutes before he was discovered and rescue crews could be summoned.

The priest was treated at Lehigh Valley Hospital and his medical bills totaled more than $400,000. But the self-insured employer refused to pay any more than $142,000, arguing that the trauma care was not necessary. In an initial proceeding, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers' Compensation determined that the injuries put the employee's life at risk, and did require trauma services. The bureau said that the employer should pay the full amount.

The employer asked the court to reconsider the decision by the Bureau near the end of last year, but the court upheld the Bureau's decision. Then the employer asked for this second decision, by the court, to be reconsidered. But the court has now denied that request, again refusing to side with the employer in its assertion that the medical care was unnecessary.

Every employee hopes that his employer will do the right thing after an accident on the job. But unfortunately, even an employer from whom you could reasonably expect compassion may contest a workers' compensation claim.

Source: The Express Times, "Diocese of Allentown must pay additional $264,000 in hospital bills for older priest who fell on ice," Colin McEvoy, Dec. 22, 2011

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