Workers' Comp FAQs

Q: How much does it cost to go to hearing in a workers' compensation case?

A: We do not charge for representing clients unless we are successful. We then ask for the judge to approve our fee, which is 20 percent in ongoing cases, or 18 percent for settlements. The costs of the case are paid for by us, which includes the transcripts and the medical records or medical depositions that are required to litigate a case.

Q: How long does a workers' compensation case take?

A: Usually, if it's litigated fully, it will take about a year, but most cases settle prior to that.

Q: Can I work and get workers' compensation at the same time?

A: Yes, but your workers' compensation benefits are reduced.

Q: Do I have to have a nurse case manager come with me to my doctor's appointment?

A: No. The nurse case manager only has the right to see that you have attended your appointment, but you do not have to speak with him or her, nor do you need to allow the nurse to go in with you to your appointment.

Q: Can the insurance company just stop my workers' compensation benefits?

A: There is something called "temporary total disability" which the insurance company can use to grant benefits for 90 days and then stop without accepting liability. Once the 90 days have passed, the insurance company has to either get your agreement or get a judge to order the benefits to stop. This only comes after a hearing and after the opportunity for us to present your testimony and medical evidence. In our experience, workers' compensation judges very rarely, if ever, grant a quick stoppage of your benefits while the case is being litigated.

Q: Do I have to attend the workers' compensation hearings?

A: Yes. We believe it is very important to show the judge that you are concerned and let the judge get to know you as a person. However, if you are out of state on a permanent basis, we can arrange for testimony by telephone.

Q: Can I get both workers' compensation and unemployment compensation?

A: You can get unemployment compensation while you are waiting to get workers' compensation, but the insurance company will take a credit for it, assuming that you are successful in getting workers' compensation.

Q: Can I get both Social Security Disability and workers' compensation?

A: Yes, although the Social Security Disability is reduced while you are getting workers' compensation. However, it is frequently important to apply for Social Security Disability while you are on workers' compensation so that you have monthly income once your case settles if you are seriously injured and unable to return to work.

Q: If I get a Notice of Ability to Return to Work, does that mean my workers' compensation benefits stop or I have to go to work?

A: No, not necessarily. Call us immediately if you get one of these, however. That is just a statement by the insurance company doctor stating that he or she thinks you can work. If your employer offers you a job, it is important, in most cases, to give it a try and also absolutely critical that you have your doctor put in writing what your restrictions are. Please contact us immediately should this occur.

Q: Can workers' compensation benefits go on forever?

A: Unless you are wheel chair bound, workers' compensation benefits are generally limited to a maximum of 9.5 years. Most cases end significantly before that. Usually, after about a year, the insurance adjuster will try to reduce or eliminate workers' compensation benefits. That is when litigation generally begins.

Q: Do I have to have a lawyer at a hearing?

A: Because the workers' compensation law is complicated and the insurance company will have a lawyer, it is important for you to be represented by someone who knows the law and is a capable advocate for you.

Q: What is my workers' compensation case worth?

A: The value of the case depends on many factors, including the nature of your injury, the support of your doctor, your work wages when you were injured, how long you have worked for your employer and many other factors.

Q: The insurance adjuster says the lawyers just make money on settlements and it is better to do it myself. Is this true?

A: No. Our firm usually gets better value for our clients and also addresses many other issues, such as medical treatment, coordination with resignation and coordination with Social Security Disability benefits.

Q: Can I get unemployment compensation benefits after I settle a case?

A: The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has recently come out with a case that says that once you resign your position, which insurance companies and employers usually require that you do when you settle a case, you cannot get unemployment compensation benefits. In some cases, we can get the insurance company or employer to waive a resignation or agree to not oppose unemployment compensation benefits. This matter must be negotiated and be part of the settlement terms.

Q: Can I work after I settle my workers' compensation case?

A: Yes. Once the settlement hearing, which is known as a Compromise and Release Agreement hearing, is held and the judge renders a decision approving it, you can work and make as much money as you are able to.

Q: Do insurance companies hire private investigators to take pictures of me, and is this legal?

A: Surveillance does sometimes occur, and the insurance company may hire a private investigator to follow you and take pictures or video of you. It may call the investigator in to testify against you. That is why it is always very important to be within the written restrictions that your doctor provides. As long as you are doing this, you will be fine. The investigators cannot go on your private property, but, otherwise, they can do anything else to observe you or learn about you, including asking questions of your neighbors. This is very distressing, but, unfortunately, they are allowed under the law to do this.

Q: What is our firm's win rate?

A: We win or settle approximately 98 percent of our cases each year. Because of our experience and hard work, we are very successful in representing our clients.

Q: What can I expect of my workers' compensation attorney?

A: We promise that we will return phone calls within 24 hours, that we will listen to your concerns and that we will follow up in whatever needs to be done, including getting all medical records and preparing you for hearing if necessary. We will also give you our best professional advice but let you make the decision, since you will be living with the consequences for the rest of your life. We will be proactive on your behalf and do everything possible to ensure that we have a successful outcome. We will always answer questions, and, above all, we will always put your interests first. We will use our experience, training and intelligence to ensure a positive outcome for you.

Contact One Of Our Harrisburg Workers' Compensation Lawyers

To learn more about our workers' compensation services, contact Katherine L. Niven & Associates to speak with a lawyer. Initial consultations are always free. You can reach us by phone at 717-260-3580 or toll free at 866-321-5340. You can also reach us via email.