The Covid-19 pandemic affected almost every aspect of our lives in some way over the past few years. Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation is no exception. In response to the pandemic, the Workers’ Compensation courts were closed briefly before promptly transitioning to virtual services. These virtual services enabled the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation court to remain open and functioning throughout most of the pandemic.
So, what do Workers’ Compensation hearings in Pennsylvania look like post-Covid? While the courts are open, most hearings are still being held virtually. Masks are no longer mandatory in the courthouse but are still encouraged. And in-person hearings may be requested by either party in the case. The judge assigned to each case has discretion over whether hearings are virtual or in-person. And the majority of judges are opting to play it safe and stick to virtual hearings, at least for now.
Today, this is where things still stand. The courts are open, but not every case is being heard in person. It’s up to the Workers’ Compensation Judge overseeing your case to make the determination.
As of February 28, 2022, the mask mandate was lifted for state employees and contracted vendors. Now, employees, vendors, and visitors no longer have to wear masks while at the courthouse. However, even though the mandate has ended, masks are still encouraged.
If you have an in-person hearing, the judge may still request that masks be worn. And if this is the case, it’s in your best interest to follow the judge’s request. In general, you don’t want to do anything that will get you on the judge’s bad side.
What if the judge in your case schedules an in-person hearing and you are not comfortable being in the public setting of the courthouse? Or, what if the judge schedules a virtual hearing and you would rather it be in person? If either of those is the case, your lawyer can file a request to change how your hearing is conducted.
When filing your request to change your hearing from virtual to in-person or vice versa, there are some key pieces of information that must be included. First, the request must list your reasons for wanting the change in hearing. And second, it must include the position of opposing counsel (what does the other side want?).
Failing to include these pieces of information may result in your request being denied automatically.
Despite the fact that the courts have re-opened, not all Workers’ Compensation hearings are taking place in person. It is up to the discretion of the judge overseeing your case.
If your hearing is in-person, while masks are no longer mandatory, they are encouraged. And if you would like for your hearing to be changed to virtual or in-person, you can file a request with the court.
An experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney can help you navigate the court system. With all the different forms and deadlines, things can get confusing without the help of a lawyer – especially if your hearings are all virtual.
My name is Geoffrey Hillsberg, and I have been solely practicing workers’ compensation law in the State of Pennsylvania since 1995. If you have been injured on the job, please contact my law office today. I will fight for your right to compensation after a workplace injury.
The advice offered above is general in nature and may not be applicable to every case. Consultation with an attorney is highly recommended. Reliance on this advice does not represent the formation of an attorney-client relationship in the absence of a fee agreement with Mr. Hillsberg.
Fill out the form with a brief description of your situation or call me at (610) 566-0600 and I’ll be in touch to schedule a free consultation.