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RICHARD RIEGER v. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (BARNES & TUCKER COMPANY) (02/17/87)

decided: February 17, 1987.

RICHARD RIEGER, PETITIONER
v.
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION APPEAL BOARD (BARNES & TUCKER COMPANY), RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board in the case of Richard Rieger v. Barnes & Tucker Company, No. A-88637.

COUNSEL

David J. Tulowitzki, with him, Timothy P. Creany, Pawlowski, Long, Creany & Tulowitzki, for petitioner.

John J. Bagnato, with him, Robert G. Rose, Spence, Custer, Saylor, Wolfe & Rose, for respondent, Barnes & Tucker Company.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Colins, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Colins

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 43]

On December 18, 1981, Richard Rieger (claimant) suffered a compensable spinal injury during the course of his employment which resulted in a paraparesis of his legs.*fn1 Barnes and Tucker Company (employer) does not dispute that claimant's injury is one of total disablement, and that because of this injury he must use a wheelchair frequently and for long periods of time. The claimant is only able to walk up to two hundred feet using leg braces and crutches.

Because of the nature of the claimant's injury, an occupational therapist who visited the claimant's home recommended that certain adjustments be made in order to facilitate the claimant's ambulation in and around his home. These recommendations included the placement of bars and ramps in the bathroom and kitchen areas to facilitate the claimant's ability to enter and exit his wheelchair as necessary without the aid of another person, the widening of doorways to facilitate passage of the wheelchair, the placement of ramps in the rear entrance to claimant's home for the wheelchair to be able to enter the home, and an enlargement of the claimant's garage to allow placement of a ramp which would provide the claimant access to and from his car.

[ 104 Pa. Commw. Page 44]

In addition the claimant had hand controls installed in his automobile in order to enable him to drive. The claimant incurred bills in the amount of $433.02 for the remodeling of his home, and a bill of $359.34 for the installation of hand controls in his automobile.

The employer refused to pay these bills, and the claimant consequently filed a claim petition to recover his costs of remodeling and automobile hand controls. A workmen's compensation referee, after hearing evidence, issued an order on June 22, 1984, wherein he concluded that Section 306 of The Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act (Act), Act of June 2, 1915, P.L. 736, as amended, 77 P.S. § 531, does not cover such costs. The Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirmed his decision on appeal. This appeal followed.

The sole issue before this Court, one of first impression, is whether the Act covers the aforementioned costs. This issue is one of law, and our scope of review includes all questions of law. Section 704 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 704; Bowlaway Lanes v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board (Catarosa), 90 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 534, 496 A.2d 99 (1985).

Section 306 of the Act, 77 P.S. § 531, specifically provides:

The following schedule of compensation is ...


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