Recently, we attended a seminar to be briefed on changes in the rules, formally known as the Special Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure before Workers’ Compensation Judges or the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (each has a separate set of rules). Since our practice is limited to representing injured workers in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases, it is critical that we be aware of all aspects of the system.
Perhaps it would be wise first to understand where the Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure fit into the system. As we have mentioned before in this blog, workers’ compensation laws vary widely from State to State. Here, the law starts with the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, which was created back in 1915 and amended many times since. This law, and its amendments, were written and enacted by the PA legislature. The law is then interpreted by the appellate courts in Pennsylvania. The process by which we litigate these cases, through the Workers Compensation Judge (WCJ) and Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB), are dictated by these Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure.
Included in the changes to the Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure before Workers’ Compensation Judges are how cases are litigated against the Uninsured Employers’ Guaranty Fund (UEGF), the fund that is available when an employer fails to carry PA workers’ comp insurance. There were also changes or amendments to what must be contained within Stipulations of Fact, to the timing of the serving of subpoenas, to the availability of a motion like a Motion for Summary Judgment (as in civil law), and changes to initial hearing procedures and pleadings.
With regard to the WCAB, there were changes made to how appeals, Requests for Supersedeas on Appeal, and appeal briefs are filed, what has to be filed to preserve multiple claims or disputes, and the timing of decisions on Supersedeas.
While there were very few significant substantive changes made, we recognize how critical it is that we remain current, and well versed, in every aspect of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. These rules show how complicated this system can get, and the need to make sure that when you select an attorney to represent you in a workers’ compensation case, he or she is “Certified as a specialist in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Section on Workers’ Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.” It is important to know that each of our attorneys are properly certified, assuring you of having the best legal representation possible.