A PA workers’ compensation case that is heard before a Judge can last as long as a year, with hearings, depositions, and the filing of legal briefs prolonging the process. If you hurt yourself at work, your claim is denied, you hire a lawyer to file a petition for you and go through this lengthy litigation – and then you received great news that you have won your case as the Judge has ruled in your favor. What happens next?
You might think that if you have waited a year for a Judge’s decision and you finally win, you shouldn’t have to wait long to get paid – the PA workers’ comp. insurance company for your employer should pay you immediately, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The insurance company’s lawyer has the right to appeal within 20 days of the Judge’s decision. Let’s look at the two possibilities – when an appeal is filed and when it is not filed.
We’ll start with the more favorable scenario – an appeal is not filed. In that case, the insurance company has 30 days to pay you your back PA workers’ comp. benefits. They might pay you sooner than 30 days, but insurance companies like to take their time so don’t be surprised if your check comes in the mail on the 29th day. If they take longer than 30 days, they could be penalized and be ordered to pay you additional money.
But don’t think just because you win your case and there is no appeal that you’re out of the woods. Although the insurance company will have to continue paying you weekly benefits, they will likely do everything they can to cut off or reduce your benefits. They will send you back for another evaluation with one of their doctors. They may hire private investigators to put you under surveillance and watch your every move. So even though you have won the first battle, you can’t get too comfortable because you may have another battle on your hands before you know it.
Now let’s take a look at what happens when you win your case before the Judge and the insurance company lawyer does file an appeal. This will delay your payment for back benefits for as long as 60 days. The appeal will be filed with the PA Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, which hears and decides appeals from Workers’ Compensation Judges’ decisions throughout the state of Pennsylvania. In the appeal, the lawyer will argue that the decision should be reversed because errors were made by the Judge, or the decision was not supported by the evidence.
The reason there will be a delay in the payment of your back benefits is because at the time the appeal is filed, the insurance company’s lawyer will file a Petition for Supersedeas. This is a request that the Appeal Board issue a preliminary decision, finding that the insurance company is not required to pay you your benefits while the case is on appeal, which could take several months. This happens if the Appeal Board grants supersedeas. Fortunately, this is very rare – the Appeal Board almost always denies supersedeas. There is a slowdown, though, because your lawyer will have to file a response to the Petition for Supersedeas, and then the Appeal Board has 20 days to issue a ruling on supersedeas. Assuming they deny supersedeas, this finally triggers the insurance company’s obligation to pay you within 30 days.
To summarize, if you win your case before the Judge on October 1, and there is no appeal, you should receive your money by October 31, earlier if you’re lucky. If the insurance company’s lawyer files an appeal, however, you will probably not receive your check for back benefits until the middle of December.
If you get the good news that the Appeal Board has denied the insurance company’s Petition for Supersedeas, it’s nice that you will receive your back benefits and will then receive a check for benefits weekly or bi-weekly going forward. But you still have to worry about the possibility that the Appeal Board will reverse the Judge’s decision and stop your benefits. About two months after the appeal is filed, the Appeal Board will hold a short hearing at which the insurance company’s lawyer and your workers’ compensation lawyer will argue the case. The insurance company’s lawyer will argue that the Judge made mistakes which warrants that the decision should be reversed. Your workers’ compensation lawyer Philadelphia, of course, will argue that the Judge made the correct decision and did not commit any legal errors. Then you have to sit back and wait a few months for the Appeal Board’s decision.
Keep in mind that when the Appeal Board issues its decision, another appeal can be filed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. If the Appeal Board agrees with the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Judge, the insurance company will have 30 days to appeal to the Commonwealth Court. If the Appeal Board reverses the Judge’s decision, then your workers’ compensation lawyer Philadelphia has the right to file an appeal with the Commonwealth Court within 30 days. Believe it or not, there is yet another appeal stage. An appeal from the Commonwealth Court’s decision can be filed within 30 days to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Unlike the Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court, the Supreme Court has the discretion to hear a case or not hear a case, and unless the case really grabs them, they won’t hear it.
We have discussed what happens if you win your PA workers’ comp. case. The best way to make sure that happens is by calling Pearson Koutcher Law if you injure yourself at work. We only handle workers’ comp. cases – this is all we do, every day, 100% of the time. One of our very experienced and knowledgeable lawyers will handle your case from beginning to end and do everything possible to ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. The insurance company and its lawyer will fight you tooth and nail so it’s important that you have a top workers’ comp. lawyer to fight back. If you need a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer near me, please call our office for a free and comprehensive consultation.