What to Expect When You Go before a Workers Compensation Judge

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The workers compensation system was established to ensure that both injured workers and employers can get through an injury and recovery process with as little interruption, conflict, and expense as possible.  This “no fault” system does not require a worker to have to prove his or her employer was at fault for the injury.  Once the injured employee files a claim, which should take place as soon as possible after the injury, Pennsylvania law requires that the worker be examined by a doctor provided by the workers compensation insurance company, if the employer provides a list of at least 6 different doctors.

Workers Compensation Benefits

State laws vary, but Pennsylvania requires that the employer post in a prominent place a list of physicians from which the worker can choose.  However, many times the doctor does not agree that the injury is serious and requires continuing treatment.  Also, many times the employer does not provide a list of at least 6 different doctors.  If that happens, the employee may seek medical treatment from a physician of his or her choosing.

What to Expect

When appearing in court before a workers’ compensation judge, it is important to be prepared.  There are a number of elements that the injured worker and his or her workers’ compensation lawyer can prepare ahead of time:

  1. Gather expert testimony on the cause of the injury, the conditions in the workplace, and the serious consequences of such an injury.
  2. Prepare evidence that the injury happened on the job in furtherance of the workers duties.
  3. Be prepared to prove through medical specialists that the injury prevents the worker from returning to work.

It is also important to prepare for the case because the employer and their insurance company will be prepared.    They may attempt to show pictures or surveillance films proving the victim is not seriously injured or medical evidence showing that the injury came from something other than the work injury, or that the worker is not disabled.

Once all the evidence is heard, the judge makes a decision.  It is likely the decision may not be handed down for weeks, or even months.

The Worker’s Responsibility

Injured workers must rely on the expertise and experience of the attorney.  It is important to tell the truth, remain calm, and allow the lawyer to deal with any challenges or objections.

Most workers in this situation will benefit greatly from having a workers compensation lawyer to represent them in court.  Employers and workers compensation insurance companies generally have highly skilled attorneys to represent them.  If the worker does not have an equally skilled lawyer it is extremely difficult to present a winning case.

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