Attorney Jessica L. Harlow of the Gross McGinley Litigation Group was recently interviewed by Lehigh Valley Business in which she discussed the current landscape of Worker’s Compensation Law and how COVID-19 has affected it. You can read a transcription of the article below and find the original digital version on LVB.com by clicking here.LVB:\u00a0What should an employer\u2019s biggest concern be with regard to workers\u00a0comp?Harlow:\u00a0While it may seem very simple, the first thing any employer should know is whether they are required to have Workers\u2019 Compensation insurance coverage and make sure they have the coverage required under Pennsylvania law.\u00a0\u00a0Failure to have required Workers\u2019 Compensation insurance is a misdemeanor and can result in significant financial penalties.\u00a0\u00a0Whether someone is an \u201cindependent contractor\u201d is also a specific inquiry and depends on certain factors. Simply calling someone an independent contractor will not define whether the employer might have obligations to that person in the event of a work-related injury.\u00a0Employers should make sure they have a clear reporting process for work-related injuries, in addition to the reporting requirements imposed by the Workers\u2019 Compensation Act. As soon as possible after a work-related injury, an employer should have a procedure in place where a detailed written report will be generated, documenting facts, interviewing witnesses and determining the cause of the incident, if possible.\u00a0\u00a0Photographs of the conditions might also be appropriate. By the time the case reaches an attorney, many months will have passed and memories fade. Capturing that information as close as possible in time to the incident can be invaluable down the road.\u00a0LVB:\u00a0Have there been any recent changes in worker\u2019s comp law?\u00a0\u00a0Harlow:\u00a0The recent case law in the area of Workers\u2019 Compensation has been mostly in the areas of administration of claims for injured workers and what are known as Impairment Rating Evaluations. [note here\u2014there have been no real \u201cexciting\u201d Workers\u2019 Compensation cases recently\u2014there was a big Supreme Court case which dealt with the constitutionality of a certain provision of the Workers\u2019 Compensation Act and whether it was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. It was a big change in Workers\u2019 Comp law but it\u2019s somewhat boring, even to WC attorneys.\u00a0LVB:\u00a0How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected worker\u2019s comp?\u00a0\u00a0Harlow:\u00a0While the statistics are still being analyzed, the impact of remote work during COVID-19 is believed to have resulted in fewer Workers\u2019 Compensation cases generally. The one recent COVID-19 related change is that all Workers\u2019 Compensation hearings went virtual, via the Teams platform.\u00a0\u00a0To date, most hearings remain virtual, which can be easier for employers who no longer need to have management and other employees miss time to travel to and from Workers\u2019 Compensation.\u00a0LVB:\u00a0Do you see any changes to worker\u2019s compensation laws in the future?\u00a0Harlow:\u00a0The law as to how COVID-19 will be treated under the Workers\u2019 Compensation law is still in flux. Based on the time it takes for Workers\u2019 Compensation claims to proceed, there are a number of cases that are working their way through the appeals process before they get to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.\u00a0\u00a0Another related issue that is likely to be at the forefront of further decisions is the impact of remote work, and whether or not remote work might need to be offered as a form of light duty work for injured workers.\u00a0\u00a0So, there are likely to be a number of decisions in the next year or two that are a direct result of COVID-19 and its impact on Workers\u2019 Compensation.\u00a0A Conversation With: Attorney Jessica L. Harlow, senior counsel at Gross McGinley – Stacy Wescoe; October 26, 2022; LVB.comJessica L Harlow is a Senior Counsel Attorney at Gross McGinley practicing law on the Litigation and Medical Malpractice Defense Groups.