If you file for unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania, you will receive a determination fairly quickly – within a few weeks. If you are denied benefits, file an appeal, and appear at a hearing before an unemployment referee, a decision will be issued within days of the hearing.
The workers’ compensation process, however, is much slower. If you injure yourself at work, and your employer denies your claim, a Claim Petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will need to be filed. It is highly recommended that you hire the firm of Pearson Koutcher, whose lawyers all have more than twenty years’ experience handling workers’ compensation claims, to file the petition on your behalf.
Your petition will be assigned to a workers’ compensation judge, who will hold a series of hearings, which will span from six months to nine months, depending upon the complexity of your case. You will testify at one of these hearings about your job, your injury, and the medical treatment that you have received for your injury. You also may have to testify at a deposition. Witnesses for your employer may also testify if the occurrence of your injury is in dispute or about other issues associated with your claim.
You will have to submit to an independent medical examination with a doctor chosen by your employer. If your injuries have disabled you, or are expected to disable you, for a year or longer, one of your treating doctors will be required to testify at a deposition and describe your injury, effect on your ability to work, and treatment you have undergone. It is likely that your employer’s lawyer will take the deposition of the doctor who examined you at their request. If your injuries are less serious and will not render you disabled for a year, the doctors may prepare reports instead of giving depositions.
At the final hearing in your case, the judge will establish a schedule by which the lawyers must file legal briefs in which they summarize the evidence and argue how the judge should decide the case. The judge will then review all of the evidence and issue a written decision, granting or denying your petition. The whole process usually takes more than a year, sometimes as long as a year and a half, from the time your petition is filed until the judge makes a decision.
You may be able to avoid the lengthy litigation process by entering into a settlement of your claim with your employer. At the first hearing, judges customarily schedule a mediation, or settlement conference, at which you, your lawyer, and your employer’s lawyer meet with a judge that is not assigned to your case in an effort to reach a settlement. Even if a settlement is not reached at the mediation, the lawyers may continue to negotiate, and it is possible a settlement will later be reached.
Whether your case is litigated and decided by a judge, or a settlement is reached, you are urged to hire Pearson Koutcher so that one of our knowledgeable, seasoned lawyers can navigate you through the process, every step of the way. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law and procedure is complicated, and it is critical that you hire a top-notch lawyer to represent you and protect your rights.
Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws.