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How Long Will My Workers’ Compensation Case Take?

Welcome to Stern & Cohen’s blog!

We are launching this to be a valuable source of information that you can follow and hopefully be educated and entertained along the way. We hope to discuss a variety of topics related to workers’ compensation cases and the law. We are always open to addressing a topic that the consumer may be interested in. So, feel free to email us at DFSTeam@sterncohenlaw.com with any questions or topics that you would like us to cover.

Without a doubt, the most common question I get at a first client meeting is, “how long will my case take?”. This is a reasonable and fair question. In many situations, particularly if the lost wage portion of your case has been denied by the insurance company, your family will be missing your income. This can be extremely stressful. It would make perfect sense that you would want to know how long it will take to get an outcome. There is no definitive answer to this question, as there is a lot of variabilities. However, there are general timelines that hold true in most instances and we will outline that here.

If your claim has been denied, we must litigate a “Claim Petition.” This is very similar to a “Complaint” in civil cases. This Petition gets your case into workers’ compensation court so we may pursue your lost wages and/or medical expenses. After we file the Claim Petition, with recent advancements in online docketing, your case will be assigned to a Judge in the county where you reside almost immediately. That Judge will then schedule a first hearing. This hearing is typically within three to four weeks. From the first hearing, we have 90 days to complete your case. This will include taking your testimony and completing our medical evidence. Within 45 days of your testimony, the insurance company may send you to an independent medical examination (more on these in a future blog post). The insurance company must complete their defense of your case within 90 days of when our evidence is done. Thus, all evidence is commonly finished in a six-month interval. The Judge will likely schedule a hearing for submission of all the evidence. At that hearing, the Judge will give us and the insurance company’s lawyer time to write legal briefs (another good topic for a future blog). These are usually due in 60-90 days from the final hearing. Once the Judge has all evidence and briefs, it is commonly another two to three months for a Decision.

If you do the math from the above paragraph, you can see that the case takes about one year from start to finish. This is actually quite fast. Litigation in other areas of law – motor vehicle accidents, liability claims, medical malpractice, etc. often take years. There is other promising news here too. A majority of cases settle before the Judge has to render a Decision. Hence, it is more likely than not that your case will not last the full year. A settlement can often be achieved before the full year passes. Many times, the case will go to mediation after several months of litigation. Even without a formal mediation, we can often negotiate a resolution directly with the insurance company’s lawyer. We have a tremendous amount of experience in settling these claims. It should be said that we also have a track record for taking cases all the way to a Judge’s Decision if a fair offer is not made. At Stern & Cohen, we are not afraid to try a case to conclusion (shamefully, some lawyers are afraid).

In our experience, the key to making it through this process is open and honest transparency with your lawyer. We will always update you on where your case stands and what lies ahead. If you are left in the dark, the timeframe is scary. If your lawyer is always there for you to tell you what to expect and layout options, the task is not as daunting. At Stern & Cohen, we are committed to always being a phone call or email away. We will make you feel like you are involved in the case and not an outsider.

2001 Market Street, Suite 2600
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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