How long does it take to litigate a work injury in Pennsylvania?

b4e87-workinjuryOne of the first questions I get at nearly every consultation for workers’ compensation is — how long does it take to get benefits.  Understandably so.  Injured workers still have mortgages, rent, car payments, and other bills to pay.  If your injury is accepted by your employer and it’s insurance carrier, then you will likely wait two or three weeks for wage loss benefits to begin.   What about if your work injury is denied?

Let’s cut to the case right away, then I will explain.  A fully litigated workers compensation claim is not a quick process, it takes a long time. If your claim is denied, by the time you actually get a decision by a workers compensation Judge, you are likely looking at a time frame between 8 and 12 months, depending on the Judge.   Let me explain.

A litigated claim (and we use that to mean a Denied claim), commences by me filing a Claim Petition on your behalf.  The burden of proof in a Claim Petition lies with the injured worker.  I must prove four things in Claim Petition litigation:

1.  An injury occurred;

2.  in the course of claimant’s employment;

3.  the injury disables claimant from performing work, thus wage loss, and

4.  that the employer was timely notified of the work injury.

With the new workers compensation integrated software system (WCAIS), a Notice of Assignment to a workers compensation Judge usually occurs fairly quickly.  However, it still may be 3 to 4 weeks until your first hearing.  That’s right — FIRST hearing.  Again, depending on the Judge, you may or may not testify at the first hearing.  Some judges simply use the first hearing as a five minute set up the case kind of hearing.  Other judges have the claimant testify.  dge. So right off the bat there is a 3 week wait for a Judge to get the file and hold a hearing. And the Judges in Pennsylvania do a fantastic job of getting you a quick hearing date.   (more…)

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Court: PPL exonerated from paying $2.5 million to pole painter

The Pennsylvania Superior Court exonerated PPL from having to pay a $2.5 million verdict to an injured workers that was painting a utility pole and fell tot he ground, suffering significant lower extremity and back injuries.   The injured worker was not an employee of PPL, but of a painting contractor.  In an earlier trial, a Jury found PPL 51% liable for damages, and the injured employee 49% liable. The main issue int his case was 'retention of control' and…

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Pennsylvania Workers Comp: Can I refuse medical treatment?

I frequently get asked questions about medical treatment.  One of those questions revolves around surgery and whether an employee must undergo surgery or some other medical treatment.  The easy answer is, yes, you can refuse any medical treatment you do not want.  HOWEVER, the important follow up question to that is, will a refusal of medical treatment impact my workers compensation benefits?  That answer is, yes, it may have a substantial impact on your benefits.   Let me explain. In…

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Shoulder Injuries and Pennsylvania workers compensation

I see many shoulder injuries in my workers compensation practice.  These types of injuries generally are centered around warehouses and distribution centers, trucking terminals, nursing care facilities, and manufacturing type facilities. These type of work-related injuries can be specific type of injuries or repetitive type injuries.  Injuries to the shoulder can happen in specific events, such as lifting items overhead and feeling a 'pop' or feeling immediate pain in the shoulder area when pushing or pulling something heavy, or falling…

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PA Court: Employer has burden to prove injured worker is not a legal, documented worker

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court took up the issue of which party bears the burden of proving whether an injured worker is ineligible for workers compensation benefits because they are in the United States illegally.   The answer the Court provided was that the burden to prove an injured worker is illegal lies with the employer, not the employee. In this specific case, an injured worker filed a Claim Petition for wage loss benefits.   A hearing for Claimant testimony was…

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Pennsylvania workers compensation by the numbers

In terms of background, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers Compensation is under the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.  Each year, the Department of Labor and Industry releases its Annual Workers Compensation and Workplace Safety report.  The Department has released its 2013 Workers Compensation Annual Report. Injury and Petition Stats The total number of reportable work injuries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania rose slightly from 2012.  In 2013, Pennsylvania employers reported 89,132 work injuries, compared to 85,117 in 2012.  …

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Shippensburg Fair starts today

The Shippensburg Community Fair starts today.   The fair will last all week at the Shippensburg Fair Grounds off of Possum Hollow Road in Shippensburg.  Mooney & Associates will have a table at the fair all week in the evening.  We encourage everyone to stop by and say hello to our Attorneys who will be at the table. If you have concerns regarding a work injury and plan to be at the fair this week on an evening, stop by…

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In Pennsylvania, Do I Get Reimbursed for Mileage for Doctors Visits under Workers Compensation?

A work-related injury can be financially devastating for many Pennsylvania workers.   If your workers compensation claim is denied and you are out of work, while you litigate the Claim Petition, you will have no income, unless you can obtain short term and/or long term disability.  Even if your work-related injury is accepted, many injured workers struggle, because, depending on your pre-injury wages, your workers compensation benefits are either 90% or 2/3 your pre-injury wage. For some who live pay…

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Procter & Gamble in Shippensburg Begins Hiring, Georgia Pacific likely choosing Exit 29 site

Procter & Gamble has begin the hiring process for their new Shippensburg, Pennsylvania facility.  The new 1.8 million square foot warehouse is being built along the Olde Scotland Road and is fully constructed on the exterior.   They are expected to hire 963 workers for the new facility. The company will be using two third-party contractors for the hiring of employees.  Translation --- the company will be using temporary agencies to staff the complex. The company said that hiring at…

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Drug Tests and Impact on Employment and Workers Compensation

The Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association recently released a report that one in three potential employees either refuse to take a drug pre-screen test or fail a pre-screen drug test. While in many cases the percentages are not high, the fact that 19% refuse to take drug tests as a condition of employment and 16% fail these tests raise a red flag and a real concern about this issue. These stats are troubling and disheartening for Pennsylvania.   Drug pre-screen testing is…

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