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    Archive for June, 2020

    Dealing With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim During the Pandemic

    Many workers throughout Pennsylvania and elsewhere have been affected in some way by COVID-19. For those who are out of work, the concern likely centers around how they will be able to meet their financial obligations. For those who are still working, the concern likely relates to the possibility of catching the virus while continuing to perform their job duties.

    Our Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer has heard from both unemployed and currently employed workers who have active workers’ compensation claims during this time, so we would like to take a moment to address some of the commonly-asked questions you may have as we all continue to navigate through these unprecedented times. For the most up-to-date information, we are still available to speak with you even though our physical offices are closed.

    I’m still working during the pandemic. If I get COVID-19 while at work, will that be considered a work-related disease or injury?

    The PA Workers’ Compensation Act identifies occupational diseases and discusses the diseases that routinely happen when working in specific types of industries or jobs. Generally, illnesses that were caused by work-based exposures can be deemed an occupational disease and/or injury. That said, if you were exposed to COVID-19 such that it resulted in the illness you’re suffering from currently, it could be considered an injury or it may even be considered an occupational disease, depending on the work or industry itself.

    If I make a Pennsylvania workers’ comp claim, will I be paid from the first day that I’m unable to report to work?

    Pennsylvania has a waiting period which is currently seven days. Accordingly, employees seeking workers’ compensation must have missed work for at least 14 days in order to be compensated for their first seven days of disability.

    What are my options if my claim is denied?

    Once a worker files a claim, the petition will be assigned to a workers’ comp judge in the county where the worker lives. In general, workers have up to three years from the date the injury occurred to file their petition to seek coverage for their injuries under workers’ compensation. Once the petition gets assigned to a judge, all relevant parties will be advised of the place, date and time of the hearing.

    Once my claim gets assigned to a judge, what happens next?

    When you seek legal guidance from our Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer, we will advise you of the next steps in your case. The Workers’ Compensation Office of Adjudication (WCOA) handles the litigation of all workers’ comp cases. Information can also be obtained directly from the WCOA.

    I had already filed a case prior to the pandemic. Will the processing of my claim be affected by COVID-19?

    Governor Tom Wolf ordered all state offices to be closed back in mid-March. That order was effective for a period of 14 days. Currently, staffing needs have been adjusted and staggered work schedules have been implemented. Those with claims and questions will still be able to contact the office and get the claims processed. A temporary phone hearing protocol was set up in an effort to lessen the amount of person-to-person contact. Our Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer will be notified directly about your hearing the procedures to be followed. What’s important to note is that, while there may be some delays in hearing times, your claim will not be dismissed.

    What if I need to file or answer a petition? Will I be able to do so during the pandemic?

    You absolutely will! The WCOA is working to ensure that all petitions are filed in a timely manner and handled during COVID-19. As mentioned above, hearings will be adjusted and modified accordingly until the health crisis has been subsided.

    I did not have a Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer when I filed, but my case has been assigned to a judge already. How will I know what the status of my claim and/or hearing is and what will occur next?

    Once you seek our legal services, we will work with the WCOA directly to find out all relevant information about your case. Additionally, you should also continue to get notices in the mail. If you have online capabilities, the WCOA keeps updated information on the WCAIS, which is their online filing service. If you register online, you will be able to check the site for any changes, office closures, early closures and/or delayed openings.

    If I was injured or obtained an illness while at work, will workers’ compensation allow me to use telemedicine services at this time?

    The Pennsylvania Department of State’s (DOS) Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) issued guidance back in March that discussed this very issue and noted that health care professionals who have been licensed under a BPOA licensing board can offer their services to patients by telemedicine during the pandemic.

    Accordingly, visits that are held via telemedicine can be used for either ongoing treatment of workplace injuries or new injuries. Stated clearly, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Office of Workers’ Compensation, in recognition of the CDC and PA Department of Health guidelines regarding social distancing, wants all workers, employers and healthcare providers to keep in mind that telemedicine and virtual care is a viable option for those who sustain injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

    Let Our Lancaster Workers’ Comp Lawyer Work for You — We Are Here to Help

    Whether you have already submitted a workers’ compensation claim prior to the pandemic or you are still working and need to submit a claim due to a recent injury or illness that happened on your job, we are here to help. Contact our Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer today for immediate assistance.