Not all employers are alike! If you or someone you know suffers a work injury, the first step is to give “Notice” in some fashion to your boss, supervisor, or foreman. Your PA employer is then to turn the claim over to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier to be processed. Once this is done, the assigned workers’ compensation adjuster has twenty-one (21) days to either accept or deny the claim. Even if the claim is accepted, it could be accepted temporarily or as a medical only, which can be explained by an experienced PA workers’ compensation attorney in further detail.
PA workers’ compensation benefits are in two (2) parts; there is the wage loss paid to you by the workers’ compensation carrier while you are out of work because of the injury, and there are medical benefits paid for the treatment for the work injury.
If the workers’ compensation adjuster denies your claim, your only next step is to file a Workers’ Compensation Claim Petition. In order to have the best chance of winning on the Claim Petition, you really need to have a PA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer with years of experience represent you. The burden of proof is always on you, the injured worker, to prove that you suffered a work injury while in the course and scope of your employment.
The PA Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is automated, and your lawyer can and is expected to electronically file the Petition online. Once the Claim Petition is filed, it is assigned to a Workers’ Compensation Judge based on where you live. Your Employer’s workers’ compensation carrier will hire a lawyer to file an Answer and defend against the Claim Petition. After that, the first hearing is scheduled at which time, in most cases, you, the Claimant will testify before the Judge. A trial schedule will be set, and it will be necessary in most cases to take Doctors’ depositions. Not only do you have to testify, but have a doctor also willing to testify that you suffered a disabling work injury. Without medical evidence from a credible doctor, you will most likely lose your case.
Keep in mind that doctors charge for their time to testify, and this usually costs thousands of dollars for just the first hour, with some charging more for additional time. Also, there are the costs of the workers’ compensation hearing transcripts and deposition transcripts which are needed to argue the evidence.
While technically, an injured worker could represent themselves on a Claim Petition, it is the better option to have representation by a seasoned PA Workers’ Compensation Attorney so that evidence is not missed and properly argued. Give yourself a fighting chance!