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What is a Judge Able to do in a Workers’ Compensation Case in PA?

workers compensationWhile it is considered common knowledge that Workers’ Compensation cases go before a judge, it is often not understood what role a judge plays in such a case. Even further, it is not typical that the average worker knows what power the judge has or what the judge is able to do or accomplish during such a case. However, understanding that role could mean a stronger case and a more informed worker. When it comes to collect these benefits, being a self-advocate and understanding your rights is imperative.

Getting the right lawyer is the most important element. Lawyers have a deep understanding of the role and power of a judge, which enables them to make different legal decisions to strengthen a case and move things along. However, knowing this on your own can only help your case.

What Does the Judge Do?

The first thing a judge in Pennsylvania must do when considering a Workers’ Compensation case is to determine whether mediation is required, which is often the case. In fact, some judges force all cases to go to mediation first. Other judges only require mediation when it seems the action will lead to a quicker conclusion. Mediation in Workers’ Compensation cases entails sitting both parties down, meaning the injured worker and the insurance company with their respective legal counsel, to attempt to find a settlement during a neutral discussion.

In mediation, the judge cannot force a decision. Instead, the two parties must work together to find a settlement both can agree on. The judge sitting on the mediation will promote compromise but is not in the position to force it or make a judgment. In these cases, it’s best to refer to your own legal counsel, who is the only one with your individual interests in mind, as the judge is looking for a quicker conclusion. When proposals are made, you are free to reject them as there is not a judgment being made. If a conclusion is reached, a compromise and release hearing must be held.

Court

If an agreement was made in mediation, the judge must ensure the injured worker understands the legal significance of the agreement and that they understand what the worker is doing by settling the case. The judge does not have the power to reject an unfair settlement, but it is their duty to ensure the worker knows what they are gaining and giving up for their settlement. For instance, the worker should know if they are getting a lump sum or how long monthly payments will last. Only the plaintiff and their legal counsel can accept or reject an offer.

At the end of the day, having the right lawyer is what makes or breaks a Workers’ Compensation case. Contact our team today to find out how we can help with your Workers’ Compensation claim.

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