What to expect at a Pennsylvania workers comp hearing

Many of my clients want to initially know what to expect at a Workers Comp hearing. I will provide a brief synopsis of what you should expect.

So, what type of information should you know for a Pennsylvania Workers Comp hearing?

You will likely be called upon to testify before the Workers Comp Judge (which I will refer to from here on as WCJ). What should you expect to be asked during your testimony? You should be prepared to discuss:

* Employment details: You should expect questions regarding your job, your wage rate, hours worked, your length of employment, and other employment related issues, including potential questions on discipline.
* Medical history: You should expect to testify about not just the medical history relevant to the work injury, but prior medical history and medical providers. You should expect questions about prior work injuries, prior accidents, and whether you had any symptoms prior to the work injury.
* The injury: You should expect questions on how the injury occurred, where it occurred, were there any witnesses, who did you report the injury to, and what were your symptoms when the injury actually occurred.
* Your current symptoms: You should expect questions on whether your symptoms have improved since the injury, stayed the same, or worsened. You should expect questions on whether medical treatment you’ve had has been helpful.

The most important thing to remember on your hearing day is to relax. Just be prepared to discuss your injury and your treatment. We will work with you so you understand the types of questions the insurance carrier’s attorney may ask.

How should I act at a Pennsylvania Workers Comp hearing?

It is critical to be friendly, answer the questions, and be completely truthful. Being hostile, evasive, dramatic, or angry will not be helpful to you case. Part of a WCJ’s decision is to determine whether you are credible or not. The WCJ is watching your demeanor. Don’t exaggerate details and your pain symptoms. The WCJ can tell if you are exaggerating. Remember, most WCJs have done hundreds of hearings. Likewise, being truthful is absolutely critical. Attempting to hide information, such as a preexisting condition or prior treatment, or lying about events that occurred, will destroy your case. The WCJ will be the one to determine your credibility, which is critical to the final outcome of your case.

Who will be at my Pennsylvania Workers Comp hearing?

In most cases, there are five persons at your hearing. You, your attorney, the insurance carrier’s attorney, the Judge, and a court reporter. However, often times, there may be someone that attends from your employer or the insurance carrier, or both. It could be your boss. It could be someone from Human Resources.

You must attend your hearing. Being late or not attending your hearing sends a very poor message to the WCJ, or at worst, could lead to a dismissal of your claim petition.

What is the process of a Pennsylvania Workers Comp hearing?

Your attorney will ask questions first. I have an organized manner to ask questions to meet the elements of the claim petition, Once your lawyer is finished asking questions, the insurance company’s attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine you. Their job is to attempt to undermine your credibility. Your attorney should help you prepare for cross examination. After both attorneys are finished asking questions, the judge may have some questions to ask, but usually not. The WCJ will move forward on more scheduling matters for your case.

What happens after my Pennsylvania Workers Comp hearing?

After the testimony hearing, the parties will move forward in litigation. There could be another hearing scheduled for the testimony of employer witnesses. Most cases move to the medical portion of the case, which usually involves scheduling doctor depositions. During this period there will likely be a mediation scheduled to try and settle the case.

Once a WCJ takes all testimony and all deposition are completed, the WCJ will schedule a final hearing to close the evidentiary record. Both attorneys will the submit briefs and the WCJ will usually take 30-90 days to issue a written decision in your case.

Workers Comp litigation is quite complex. If you have been injured at work, call Mooney Law for a FREE consultation. We have 14 offices throughout Central Pennsylvania and Maryland and handle both Pennsylvania and Maryland workers compensation cases. Call is today at 833-MOONEYLAW or 717-200-HELP.

Mark Buterbaugh

Attorney representing injured workers and Social Security Disability clients in Pennsylvania and Maryland.