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Injured at Work — Will I Have to Face the Judge?

  • Dave Brown, Esquire
  • 01/27/2020

Anybody who is involved in a legal matter, regardless of the type, asks themselves the question with some concern, “Will I have to go before the judge?” If so, what constitutes the need to go in front of a judge? What should you expect? We are here to help. Let’s take a look at when you may need to go in front of a judge if you file a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania.

If you get injured at work in Pennsylvania and file a workers’ compensation claim, it’s likely that you will have to appear before the judge at some point in the claim process. If your employer’s insurance company accepts your claim and starts to send you checks for your lost wages and pays your medical bills, at least initially you won’t have to go before the judge. However, if the insurance company denies your claim on the basis that you didn’t injure yourself at work, or if you did your injury didn’t prevent you from doing your job, you will need to file a Claim Petition in order to get wage loss and medical benefits. This will be assigned to a Workers’ Compensation Judge, who will preside over your case and decide whether you are entitled to benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. You will want an experienced lawyer with expertise in PA workers’ comp to represent you in these proceedings and walk you through the complicated legal process so you can concentrate on getting better and putting this part of your life behind you— the lawyers at Pearson Koutcher Law specialize in workers’ compensation — it’s all we do. Together, our workers’ comp attorneys have over 100 years’ experience fighting for injured workers and will zealously represent you to get you the benefits you need and deserve.

You will have to testify before the judge and describe every facet concerning your claim, including the job you were performing at the time of your injury, how you injured yourself, doctors you have seen, if you are still injured, and why you’re unable to do your job or a light-duty version of your job. At the beginning of your case, you may testify by deposition at your lawyer’s office along with only a defense attorney and court reporter in the room, but eventually, before your case is decided, you will have to go into court and testify before the judge.

Even if your claim is initially accepted, in all likelihood there will come a time when you will have to testify before the judge. The insurance company will have you evaluated by a doctor of their choice, and if that doctor says you have fully recovered from your work injury or have recovered to the extent that you can return to your job, a petition will be filed to terminate or suspend your benefits, which will be heard by a Workers’ Comp. Judge. You will have to testify before the judge and explain why you have not recovered from your injury and are not yet able to go back to work.

Many Pennsylvania workers’ comp cases result in a settlement — the insurance company agrees to pay the injured worker a lump sum of money in exchange for which the injured worker gives up the right to receive wage loss and medical benefits in the future. If that happens in your case, you will have to go into court and testify before the judge that you understand the terms of the settlement, which are set forth in a document called a Compromise and Release Agreement.
Fortunately, in the midst of the pandemic, there are procedures in place such as video mediations and hearings of all types that will allow you to meet with the judge to keep your workers’ comp claim moving forward. So, do not hesitate to speak up about your work injury. Your case will not be held up.

Here’s the bottom line: if you get injured at work, before your case is over, you are going to have to testify before the judge, and you will need one of the lawyers at Pearson Koutcher Law by your side. We are here to help and guide you through what to expect before you have to go before a judge. Please call for your free, comprehensive workers’ comp consultation.