Philadelphia workers who have been injured on the job may find themselves in company with hundreds of other Pennsylvanians whose workers’ compensation cases have been languishing in a technological no-man’s-land since early September. The new software, designed to bring claims filing and processing up to date, has instead created a snarl out of the process.
Everything from the inability to upload documents to the outright disappearance of documents has been reported by judges, lawyers for claimants and others who use the system. The Department of Labor and Industry had contracted for a $45 million on the overhaul with New York-based Deloitte Consulting LLC. The system went live Sept. 9. Problems followed soon after. A 90-day warranty period means that the state has not actually paid out the money yet.
A member of the steering committee overseeing the system says that because of the technological tangle, the workers’ comp process has almost come to a complete halt. Under the old system, cases filed would be assigned to a judge within a week, and a hearing held within seven to 14 days after that. With the current situation, some cases have still not been processed after a month.
The result of the computer foul-up is that injured workers are not being notified of decisions regarding their cases, or not getting hearings to begin with, creating serious consequences. Insurance companies, doctors, and employers need the information so that workers can receive medical treatment and compensation for their injuries; the pain of injuries is difficult enough to endure, without being compounded by the loss of income as well.
Five hundred cases are currently on backlog, according to Labor and Industry Department officials, and the department has increased staff to deal with it. Reported problems are being dealt with or have been resolved, and workers’ compensation payments already being paid are not affected by the computer glitches, officials say.
This technological nightmare is just one more problem an injured worker has to deal with, but worse is when benefits are intentionally denied or delayed. Legal counsel can help workers seek the compensation they deserve for on-the-job injuries.
philly.com, “Computer woes plague Pa. worker comp system” Angela Couloumbis, Oct. 23, 2013