The Supreme Court has issued the much-anticipated decision which impacts the application of the Parsons presumption in claims accepted on a Form 60.  In Wilkes v. City of Greenville, 368PA15 (June 9, 2017), the Employee was involved in a work-related motor vehicle accident.  The defendant accepted the claim via a Form 60, and expressly limited the accepted injuries as “ribs, neck, legs and entire left side.”  Nine months later, Employee filed a hearing request, contending he needed treatment for additional conditions of anxiety and depression.

The Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals that the Full Commission erred in placing the burden of proving causation on the Employee, and in failing to apply the Parsons presumption which shifts the burden of disproving causation to the defendant.  The Court held that “an admission of compensability . . . entitles an employee to a presumption that additional medical treatment is causally related to his compensable injury.”  In the application of this rule to anxiety and depression, the Court has essentially established an incident based acceptance – once an accident is deemed compensable, the burden shifts to the employer to disprove any alleged injury from that accident.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Wilkes conclusively holds that once a claim is admitted as compensable on a Form 60, the Parsons presumption will apply regardless of whether a condition is expressly identified as a compensable injury on the Form 60.  The burden of proof is now on the employer to show that the alleged injury is not causally related to the original incident.

Carriers and self-insured employers now need to be prepared to affirmatively produce evidence to disprove causation even for conditions not listed on the 60.

If you have any concerns regarding this opinion, please contact us.

Photo of attorney Erica Lewis

Erica Lewis
Wilmington
910.679.4802
elewis@hedrickgardner.com

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M. Duane Jones
Charlotte
704.602.8009
djones@hedrickgardner.com

The information published in Hedrick Gardner Alerts is general in nature and not intended to take the place of legal advice on any particular matter. © 2017 Hedrick Gardner Kincheloe & Garofalo LLP