Workers’ Compensation laws vary state to state, but they also must adhere to national laws and standards. In Pennsylvania, the Workers’ Compensation Act was put into practice to protect employees if they sustain a work related injury or illness. The Act provides that medical expenses, wage loss compensation, even death benefits are paid by the employers’ workers’ compensation insurance. Most business owners are required by law in the United States to carry worker’s compensation insurance to cover their employees should there be an accident.
In certain cases, insurance companies deny claims and won’t pay the necessary benefits. In Pennsylvania, all cases go through the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Office of Adjudication. If you have been injured at work, and your Claim is denied by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, you will have to file a Claim Petition to pursue benefits. After the Petition is filed, the responding party (the employer through their workers’ compensation carrier) has 20 days to file an answer, either admitting or denying the allegations.
The case next is assigned to a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge. The assigned Judge then schedules a first hearing, at which time, testimony is taken of the Claimant (the injured worker), although every Judge is different, and may run their Courtroom differently than other Judges in the Commonwealth. If appropriate, a Mediation will be scheduled to attempt to settle the case; if the case cannot be settled, then both the Claimant attorney and the Workers’ Compensation Carrier’s attorney will present their respective evidences, which will include deposition testimony from doctors on both sides, unless the amount of time alleged for disability is 52 weeks or less. An unrepresented Claimant is at a severe disadvantage if a Dr. has to testify, as most doctors charge in the $1,000.00s (thousands) to give a deposition, and direct and cross examination of the Dr. can make or break the case.
From the initial assignment of the Petition to the final hearing, it can take up to 12 months to litigate. The Workers’ Compensation Insurance attorney and the Claimant’s attorney are each given a timetable by the assigned Judge to submit all of their evidence. The Workers’ Compensation Judge then decides which party wins. The employee has the option to appeal if the Judge rules in favor of the employer and vice versa.
Hiring an attorney who day in, day out practices workers’ compensation law can make a huge impact on the case. An attorney who knows the Pennsylvania laws on workers’ compensation can get real results for the clients they represent. An established attorney’s wealth of knowledge can be the key to getting the benefits the injured employee deserves. Whether it is payment of medical expenses, wage loss benefits, additional compensation for scarring, or for a specific loss (amputation of a body part), an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can get results, which may not be gained if the injured party does not have a lawyer. If you need more information, you can call Paula Robinson 215-530-7166 or 570-855-9475.