decided: December 23, 1981; December 2, 1982, Decided.
No. 80-3-797, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court, dated June 24, 1980, No. 1447 C.D. 1979, No. 81-1-31, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court, dated December 18, 1980, No. 2284 C.D. 1979
Edwin H. Beachler, McArdle, Caroselli, Spagnolli & Beachler, Pittsburgh, for appellant at No. 31.
David F. Kaliner (Deceased), Edward B. Joseph, Philadelphia, for appellant at No. 797.
Clem R. Kyle, Mary J. McCrory, Kyle & Ehrman, Pittsburgh, for Latrobe Forge and Spring.
Louis L. Kaplan, Harrisburg, Secretary, W.C.A.B., for appellee at No. 31.
Lowell A. Reed, Jr., Philadelphia, for Stork Diaper Services, Inc., for appellees at No. 797.
Larsen, Justice. O'Brien, C.j., filed a dissenting opinion in which Roberts and Hutchinson, JJ., joined.
These cases present a question of first impression under the Workmen's Compensation Act, Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 1 et seq.: Whether an employe's right to receive specific loss compensation rather than total disability compensation after the loss of "both hands or both arms or both feet or both legs or both eyes" within the meaning of 77 P.S. § 513(23) survives him.
Under the Act, an employe who has lost both legs or the use of both eyes may receive either total disability compensation or compensation for his specific losses. 77 P.S. § 513 provides:
For all disability resulting from permanent injuries of the following classes, the compensation shall be exclusively as follows:
(5) For the loss of a lower leg, sixty-six and two-thirds per centum of wages during three hundred fifty weeks.
(6) For the loss of a leg, sixty-six and two-thirds per centum of wages during four hundred ten weeks.
(7) For the loss of an eye, sixty-six and two-thirds per centum of wages during two hundred seventy-five weeks.
(23) Unless the board shall otherwise determine, the loss of both hands or both arms or both feet or both legs or both eyes shall constitute total disability, to be compensated according to the provisions of clause (a) [77 P.S. § 511].*fn1
Total disability benefits awarded under 77 P.S. § 513(23) and paid according to the provisions of 77 P.S. § 511 are "payable for the duration of total disability." Since the injuries for which total disability compensation may be awarded under 77 P.S. § 513(23) are permanent in nature, such compensation terminates only upon the employe's death. Specific loss payments awarded pursuant to 77 P.S.
§ 513, however, do not terminate upon the employe's death from an unrelated cause. 77 P.S. § 541 provides:
Should the employe die from some other cause than the injury, payments of compensation to which the deceased would have been entitled to [sic] under section 306(c)(1) to (25) [77 P.S. § 513(1) to (25)] shall be paid to the following persons who at the time of the death of the deceased were dependents . . .:
(1) To the surviving widow or widower if there are no children under ...