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WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND WILLIAM BURGERHOFF v. BRANCH MOTOR EXPRESS AND EMPLOYERS MUTUAL LIABILITY INSURANCE COMPANY WISCONSIN (04/03/75)

decided: April 3, 1975.

WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD AND WILLIAM BURGERHOFF, APPELLEES,
v.
BRANCH MOTOR EXPRESS AND EMPLOYERS MUTUAL LIABILITY INSURANCE COMPANY OF WISCONSIN, INSURANCE CARRIER, APPELLANTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in case of William Burgerhoff v. Branch Motor Express, No. A-67919.

COUNSEL

James K. Martin, for appellant.

Carlon M. O'Malley, Jr., with him Todd J. O'Malley, George W. Teets, and James N. Diefenderfer, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr. and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 264]

This is an appeal by the Branch Motor Express (appellant) from a decision of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirming a referee's award of workmen's compensation benefits to William Burgerhoff (claimant).

The referee's award of benefits was based on his findings of fact and conclusions of law that claimant had become totally disabled as a result of an accident which occurred during the course of his employment as an "over the road" truck driver with appellant.

Our scope of review in this type of case is limited to a determination of whether constitutional rights were violated, an error of law was committed, or any necessary finding of fact was not supported by substantial evidence. Regent Bottling Company v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board, 10 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 8, 309 A.2d 265 (1973). The exercise of this narrow scope of review compels us to affirm the Board.

Appellant first contends that the award of compensation to claimant is not supported by substantial evidence. This contention is based on the argument that claimant's medical evidence on the causal connection between his accident and his injuries was incompetent because it was presented by a general practitioner, Dr. Joseph A. Sutula.

Dr. Sutula was claimant's family physician and the physician who initially treated claimant after his accident. Dr. Sutula admitted claimant to Mercy Hospital, called in specialists for consultation, and continued to treat claimant thereafter. There is no doubt that Dr. Sutula was the physician who was the most familiar with claimant's physical condition before and after his accident. Although Dr. Sutula was not a specialist, this fact in no way affects his competency but only goes to the weight to be given his testimony. This Court has often affirmed awards based on the testimony of general practitioners. See E. Hoy v. Fran Lingerie, 9 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 542,

[ 18 Pa. Commw. Page 265308]

A.2d 640 (1973). Here, we conclude that Dr. Sutula was competent to testify on the issue of causation and that his testimony adequately supports the award of compensation to claimant.

Appellant's second argument is that it was error for the referee and Board to award subrogation rights to the Teamster's Local Union No. 429, ...


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