What are Termination, Suspension and Modification Petitions in PA Workers Comp?
One of the tools in their arsenal is an “independent medical examination,” in which a doctor of their choice will evaluate you. They are entitled to two of these examinations a year. The doctor will ask you questions about your injuries, examine you, review records of the doctors who have treated you, and then write a report, rendering opinions about your condition and ability to work. Based on the doctor’s opinions, the insurance company may file any number of petitions against you.
If the doctor is of the opinion that you have fully recovered from your work-related injuries, you can expect that a Termination Petition will be filed against you. The insurance company will attempt to terminate all of your benefits – both wage loss and medical.
The doctor may also conclude that you have not recovered from your injuries, but you have recovered to the extent that you’re able to return to the job that you held when you were injured. Under these circumstances, your employer may send you a letter offering you the opportunity to return to your job. If you decline to return, you can expect that a Suspension Petition will be filed against you. With a Suspension Petition, the insurance company will be trying to suspend your wage loss benefits; the petition will not affect your entitlement to ongoing medical benefits.
You may also have to defend against a Modification Petition if the doctor believes that you have not recovered, cannot return to your pre-injury job, but are able to return to some level of work which does not pay as much as your regular job. An example would be if the doctor releases you to perform part-time light-duty work. If your employer has a position in this category, they may send you a letter offering this job to you. They may also hire a vocational consultant, who is a person with expertise on the job market. This person would interview you and ask you questions about your employment history and educational background and then locate jobs in the area that are within the doctor’s physical restrictions and vocationally appropriate for you – in other words, you must be qualified for the jobs based on the work you have done in the past and your education. If you were earning $700 per week at the time that you got hurt, and the jobs located by the vocational consultant pay, on the average, $300 per week, they will try to modify your benefits to two-thirds of the difference between $700 and $300.
If one of these petitions is filed against you, it will be assigned to a workers’ compensation judge who will hold hearings and decide the petition. It’s important that you hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to represent you in this litigation so you can maintain your benefits. At Pearson Koutcher Law, each of our lawyers has more than twenty years’ experience representing injured workers in workers’ compensation claims. So if you receive a petition in the mail and don’t know where to turn – or even if a petition has not been filed against you, but you have been injured recently and have questions – we urge you to contact Pearson Koutcher Law promptly and schedule a free consultation at your home or our office.
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