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Christian Petrucci of the Law Offices of Christian Petrucci. Christian Petrucci of the Law Offices of Christian Petrucci.

It goes without saying that like almost every aspect of society, the COViD-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the practice of workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania. The disruption began in earnest March 17 when Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the closure of all Pennsylvania state government offices for 14 days. Wow! All hearings and mediations were promptly cancelled. From that point, uncertainty has reigned, more than anything, but the practice remains strong, albeit with scarcely any new claims. Given the absence of a universal solution, the Office of Adjudication did its best to authorize a system of judge-specific modes of communication and procedure. Some WCJs were equipped to move to a home-based practice immediately, others less so. Some implemented Zoom hearings, others Skype for Business, still others WebEx or just plain telephone hearings—especially for the approval of compromise and release agreements. Little by little, as the governor’s lockdown continued to be extended and it became clear that “normal” was not returning any time soon, the bureau’s capabilities began to adapt with the times. This had the potential to be debilitating, given that every judge already has his own set of procedures. The Office of Adjudication’s “Special Procedures During COVID-19″ did not engender confidence that things would run smoothly.

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