As we have noted previously, all hearings in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation matters have been held virtually, either by telephone or video, since last Spring. We have now been told that the hearing offices within the PA Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will be reopening as of August 16, 2021.
However, this does not mean the system will return to how it functioned prior to the pandemic. As with many things, we will be learning a “new normal.” We have been told that “virtual hearings” will continue for certain things, though exactly when hearings will be live, as opposed to virtual, remains unclear. Likely, we will have live hearings for the testimony of an injured worker, or an important witness, but that virtual hearings will continue for “status hearings.” Whether a hearing is live or virtual, ultimately, will come down to the discretion of the Workers’ Compensation Judge.
Meanwhile, the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board will continue to hold oral argument virtually. As is the case now, the parties can request oral argument be done live. Provided the request is made in a timely fashion, it will generally be granted. In the special case of disfigurement/scarring, the hearing will be done in person.