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How Do Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judges Make A Decision

During a work injury case, the ideal conclusion is to reach a settlement or a compromise that mutually benefits both parties. Nobody wants the case to drag on in court. The injured employee wants quick recovery with reasonable benefits while employers want it settled because haggling over what an injured worker should get is not a good look for them.

Yet, things don’t always go as planned and negotiations can sometimes stall.

Injured workers in Pennsylvania usually come to us to find out how their case will proceed if no agreement can be reached. The simple answer is, if a case doesn’t settle by way of a Stipulation, or a Compromise and Release Agreement, then a Workers’ Compensation Judge will intervene and decide the issues at hand.

Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Judges
Image Source: Pexels.com/EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA

How Do They Do This? Let’s Find Out.

1. Briefings Will Be Filed

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge will admit evidence into the record. Then, in many cases, at a final hearing, the Work Comp Judge will issue a Briefing Schedule.

Briefs are the written arguments from each party’s attorney. The Brief will include a summary of the facts, the relevant Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law, regulation, or case law, and an argument section.

Normally, the moving party — the party that instigated litigation — will have to submit their brief first. It usually happens 45 to 60 days after the final hearing. Then the other side will generally have 30 to 45 days thereafter to submit their brief. Although, sometimes, the briefs are due at the same time. This will depend on the particular Work Comp Judge and what the attorneys ask for.

If it’s a Claim Petition and no benefits are being paid, this lengthy time period after litigation ends. Now, parties wait to receive a decision, and this waiting period can be quite frustrating. Conversely, if an injured worker is already receiving wage loss benefits, this lengthy process is helpful as the benefits continue at least until the decision comes out.

2. Credibility Decisions Will Be Made

The Pennsylvania Work Comp Judge will have to make credibility determinations about each witness. Which witness the Judge found most credible and why. These witnesses may include people who witnessed the accident — strangers on the road or other workers in the office. It may also be the company’s safety inspector who vouch for the safety practices in the building.

Usually, however, especially in cases where the injury or its extent is disputed, medical experts emerge as the most influential witnesses in the work comp case.

The Work Comp Judge will decide about issues relating to the medical evidence presented by both parties. The Judge may ask the medical experts things like whether the worker has recovered, whether the worker sustained a work-related injury, whether the worker has an earning power, etc.

When making decisions about witness’ credibility, you will find a paragraph wherein the Judge states “I find the opinions of Dr.___ to be more credible than Dr.____ “, and then list the reasons why. In most cases, there are about 3 to 4 more sentences explaining why the Judge found one doctor more credible than the other.

3. The Decision Will Be Given

A written decision, including the important Court Order, will be mailed to the parties around 30 to 60 days after the last brief is submitted. Here, again, each Judge is different with respect to the turnaround time.

While the decision usually isn’t delayed more than the 60 days maximum but this isn’t written in stone. If your decision is still not out after 60 days have passed, your PA work comp lawyer will get in touch with you and update you with the latest developments.

The Decision will list the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and a Court Order. The court order will contain the instructions of the Judge regarding the decision of the case and how each party is supposed to proceed from there on out.

The Importance Of Credible Medical Experts

Medical evidence is often the key element to a petition that’s being litigated before a Pennsylvania Work Comp Judge. And, this is a big reason why injured workers need a lawyer. An average worker won’t know how to depose the medical doctor or how to prepare them. To begin with, most perhaps won’t even know how to get in touch with a credible doctor with relevant expertise required for a particular case.

Plus, oftentimes an injured worker won’t be able to afford the $1500 to $6,000 deposition fee of the doctor.

As you can see, there can be a real disparity here, but it arises from the specialties a doctor has to offer — from a regular physician to an expert neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon, for example.

To counter all that, our firm has a high winning percentage and a big reason is that we send our clients to reputable physicians. We have the fighting power and the financial leverage to go after big corporations that are denying your rightful injury compensation.

So, if you are looking for a strong legal representation in your work comp case, you’ve come to the right place.

Can The Decision Of The Judge Be Appealed?

Can the Decision of the Workers’ Compensation Judge — often referred to as WCJ — be appealed?

Yes, there is a 20 day appeal period to file, which takes the cases to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. That Decision can then be appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. After that, the PA Supreme Court will take some cases depending on the issue.

So, even if a WCJ doesn’t rule in your favor on the first try, all the doors aren’t closed to you. With the right workers comp attorney on your side, someone with a fighting spirit, you can rest assured that your rights will be appealed and fought for, till you get the rightful dues that you are owed.

For more information about Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law, call us anytime at 215-206-9068. Remember: All We Do Is Work Comp.

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Cardamone Law Has Negotiated Some of the Largest Workers’ Comp Settlements in Pennsylvania

$6 Million
We Assisted Another Firm in Reaching Settlement
$2.2 Million
Spinal Injury
$897,000
Lower Back Injury
$650,000
Lower Back Injury
$550,000
Neck Injury
$425,000
Leg Injury
$375,000
Knee Injury
$325,000
Ankle Injury
$6 Million
We Assisted Another Firm in Reaching Settlement
$2.2 Million
Spinal Injury
$897,000
Lower Back Injury
$650,000
Lower Back Injury
$550,000
Neck Injury
$425,000
Leg Injury
$375,000
Knee Injury
$325,000
Ankle Injury

Client Testimonials

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mike and Shirley!!"

I called Shirley when I was scared and didn’t know what where my next dime was coming from after I was out with my work injury. Shirley was very kind and helpful guiding me every single step of the way. Mike was not your typical lawyer was not pushy but very responsive to all my gazillion questions. He helped me get my settlement quickly and settlement check in a very timely manner. Would recommend them to anyone! Mike helped calm all my fears and anxieties as I was trying to navigate one of the hardest and most stressful times in my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mike and Shirley!!

- Jen Thompson
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"Tienes un equipo impresionante a pesar de ser una compañía pequeña, los resultados fueron excelentes!"

Yo le daría 10 estrellas en vez de 5 , Michael Cardamone es una persona genuina y un gran abogado, al principio de mi caso, yo estaba en la oscuridad y no sabia que pasos tendría que seguir porque Workers comp ,solo me cubría en esos momentos los beneficios medicos .Después, me eliminaron el puesto , no sabia como manejar mi situación (estaba con una cirugía y también sin trabajo,) grasias a Mike, el me dirigió por el camino correcto, me dieron una muy buena cantidad por mi caso. El fue muy comprensivo porque le hice muchas preguntas por email y siempre me las contesto a tiempo, brindando seguridad ,sabia que estaba en las manos correctas! Shirley y Francisco también fueron de gran ayuda con los recordatorios y servicios de traducción en Español. tienes un equipo impresionante a pesar de ser una compañía pequeña, los resultados fueron excelentes! se los recomiendo a todos. Muchas grasias Cardamone law!

- Marisol Rodriguez
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"Best Law Firm around!"

"Cardomone law is absolutely fantastic! They are very responsive and helpful and they will fight to get you what you deserve. Shirley is also very helpful whenever you have any questions! Best Law Firm around!"

- C. Edwards
Google Reviews
"Michael and Shirley are very dedicated...and getting the maximum amount favorable to my case"

"Cardamone Law Firm were very helpful to me since day one. Michael and Shirley are very dedicated to my case giving me updates, answering my questions, being honest with my case, and getting the maximum amount favorable to my case. Thank you so much for your service and dedication and helping me to achieve not only your case but to guide and refer me in other needs too! You guys are the best law firm friendly and dedicated. I will recommend to anyone."

- A. Ortiz
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"Michael won my workers comp case after my employer insurance denied my claim."

"Exceptional firm. Highly recommend this law firm. Michael won my Workers Comp case after my employer insurance denied my claim. Him and his staff were always at my reach for legal and emotional support. Am so happy I hire them. Thanks Michael and Ms. Shirley."

- Carlos P.
Google Reviews
"[They] did an excellent job in getting me financially compensated in a fairly short amount of time."

"I recently had a work related injury and was receiving Workers' Compensation (medical benefits only). Soon after I was fired, so I contacted Paul Silver at Cardamone Law Firm who did an excellent job in getting me financially compensated in a fairly short amount of time. Paul and his assistant Shirley always responded to any questions I had about the case in a very short amount of time. Thank you for helping me with this difficult case."

- Robin C.
Google Reviews
"Highly recommend."

"Cardamone Law was great with helping my husband with his Workers Comp issues. Mike and Shirley were the best with letting us know what was going on every step of the way. Highly recommend."

- Danielle P.
Google Reviews
"Mike Cardamone is amazing"

"Mike Cardamone is amazing. He is "hands down" one of the best lawyers I've ever had the privilege of knowing. He is very kind, understanding, knowledgeable in his field, always very thorough and helpful. He was extremely professional and someone who truly cares about his clients. I felt completely at ease with him. He was a pleasure to work with, explained everything in detail, as well as answered all my questions with knowledge and care. If you want someone you can trust, who communicates every step of the way, will fight for you and make sure you win your case, he is it! I will refer all my family and friends to him. Thank you so much Mike, for everything. I appreciate all your hard work and dedication in helping me."

- Allie M.
Google Reviews
Without a doubt YOU are the best!!!

"Without a doubt YOU are the best!!! Every person who is in the horrible position of being injured at work should have someone as kind, compassionate and knowledgeable as you on their side. You never once made me feel like I was one of a hundred other clients. I always knew you had my back! You answered calls and emails at all hours. You fought every fight for me so I only had to worry about getting well. Behind your nice, calm face there’s a pit bull ready to take on any employer or judge. I can never thank you enough."

- L. Edall
Google Reviews
"Best Workers' Comp Lawyer!"

"Michael is simply the best! He was there for me from day 1 till the end, and we won the case!! He is always available to help. I had a gazillion questions and he would answer them one by one. He's a great lawyer and I feel lucky to have found him online from reading other outstanding reviews about him. Believe me, they're true!"

- Faith B.
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"Great Attorney"

"Great attorney, handled case quickly and efficiently. I would recommend him and would use him again. He was always available to answer any questions we had. Thank you, Mr. Cardamone."

- H. Anderson
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