Supersedeas is a frequently-used term by lawyers and Judges in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases. If you have been unlucky enough to injure yourself at work, understanding supersedeas and their contingencies is essential to the outcome of your case. Read on for an in-depth guide detailing supersedeas Pennsylvania outcomes and expert recommendations from Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer professionals at Pearson Koutcher Law.
Supersedeas, often referred to as a “writ of supersedeas,” translates to “you shall desist” in Latin. It pertains to a legal concept that involves staying the execution of a judgment while an appeal is pending. It can involve the issuance of a writ or the provision of a bond that temporarily suspends the authority of a judgment creditor to carry out the execution of the judgment.
Let’s say you have sustained a work-related injury and are collecting workers’ comp. benefits. You can bet that the insurance company for your employer will eventually file a petition to terminate (stop your checks and cut the medical portion of your case), suspend (stop your check, but not contest your medical), or modify (reduce the amount of your check, but not contest your medical) your benefits. Petitions undergo assignment to a Workers’ Compensation Judge, who will hold a series of supersedeas hearings for workers’ comp. over nine to twelve months and then issue a final decision.
At the first hearing, set for around four to six weeks after the petition filing occurs, the lawyer for the insurance company will submit documents to the Judge that will include the report of the doctor who evaluated you at the request of the insurance company (and provided the medical opinion which prompted the filing of the petition) and ask the Judge to grant – now here’s that word – supersedeas. Supersedeas means the lawyer will ask the Judge to stop your checks immediately — before all evidence receives presentation on the petition.****
The Judge will not render a decision at the hearing but will allow document submission in opposition to the petition within 14 to 21 days. To ensure supersedeas denial and your weekly benefits continue, you must submit an affidavit signed by you stating your disagreement with the opinion of the insurance company doctor and medical reports from one or more of your treating doctors supporting your position of disability.
In this scenario, an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer will prepare these documents to be filed with the Judge on your behalf in opposition to the insurance company petition. Soon after the Judge receives these documents, an Order will grant or deny supersedeas.
Denial of Supersedeas ensures your checks will continue while the petition undergoes litigation before the Judge over the next several months. The Judge must deny supersedeas, not only so your weekly checks continue but also because the insurance company will be more inclined to pay you a fair settlement. Conversely, granting supersedeas in Pennsylvania allows the insurance company to stop your checks and will likely be less apt to make you a reasonable settlement offer.****
Suppose that instead of accepting your claim after you injured yourself, the insurance company denied your claim, and you had to hire a lawyer to file a Claim Petition on your behalf. If the Judge grants your petition after the long process and awards you benefits, you might assume you are automatically entitled to these benefits. Unfortunately, that’s not the case because there is another hurdle you may have to overcome to get paid.
The insurance company can appeal the Judge’s decision to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB) and, in doing so, can ask that the WCAB grant supersedeas until the parties decide on the appeal.
Requesting supersedeas in Pennsylvania enables the insurance company to ask the Appeal Board to “stay,” or hold, on the Judge’s decision. This ability prevents insurance companies from paying you awarded benefits. You will need your workers’ comp lawyer Philadelphia team to submit a detailed written response to the Appeal Board, arguing that supersedeas should be denied.
If the Judge denies a petition, regardless of termination, suspension, or modification, your Employer may contact the WCAB to request that your benefits be halted until the appeal is decided. Supersedeas Pennsylvania grants by a Workers’ Compensation Judge or the Appeal Board are uncommon; however, you cannot afford to take any chances. A supersedeas grant is a significant blow in a workers’ comp case.
It’s important to note that if you injure yourself at work and are suffering from pain, receiving medical treatment, and are unable to work, do not expect the insurance company to be sympathetic. They will do everything they can to limit the money they have to pay you. Insurance will have you examined by their doctors, file petitions against you, request supersedeas, and file appeals if they lose before the Judge. They will also send you forms to complete every six months, which can result in the suspension of your benefits if you do not promptly return them and hire a private investigator to follow you.
To protect your rights, you need an experienced workers’ comp lawyer Philadelphia to go head-to-head with the insurance company every step of the way. At Pearson Koutcher Law, workers’ comp. is all we do. Every one of our lawyers has at least 20 years of experience representing injured workers in workers’ comp. cases. Please call us for a free and comprehensive consultation.