Vocational interviews are arranged in PA Workers' Compensation cases when the insurance carrier feels they can stop or reduce their obligation to pay benefits to an injured worker by showing that the general labor market includes jobs the injured worker could do, without regard for whether employers in the real world would hire that disabled worker over other qualified candidates not living with an injury.
The interview allows the insurer's vocational consultant to gain information about the injured worker's education and work history, to identify "transferable skills." The defendant's vocational consultant will then prepare a "labor market survey
" which will be used as evidence against the injured worker in litigation seeking to stop or reduce the wage loss benefits the injured worker receives for their injury.
The injured worker can fight back, but the vocational interview must be taken very seriously. Although the Workers' Compensation Act generally requires that the injured worker submit to the vocational interview, the worker can and shoud have his or her attorney present.
Some insurance carriers use the threat of a vocational interview and a labor market survey to try to pressure unrepresented claimants to take low-end settlements (typically the only kind of settlement an insurance company ever offers to a claimant with no attorney). They may make it seem like the result of the labor market survey will be automatic. This is not the case, but you need a lawyer, fast.
When an insurance carrier is resorting to a vocational interview with plans for a labor market survey, it generally signals that the medical evidence in the case at least partly supports the claimant. That is, even sources under the control or influence of the insurance carrier are recognizing some degree of ongoing disability, or there would be no need for the vocational evidence.
There are many ways a skilled and experienced workers' compensation attorney
can fight back when an insurance carrier is seeking to develop "vocational evidence" against you. If an insurance adjuster has threated they will use this tactic to reduce or stop your wage loss benefits, call us. If you have been scheduled for a vocational interview, call us. We will quickly determine whether or not you are required to go, under the specific circumstances of your claim, or whether the interview and proceedings to follow can properly be stalled or avoided. If you are compelled to participate, we can prepare you in advance and attend the interview at your side, to ensure that the scope of the interview is appropriately limited and that your rights are respected and preserved. We will guide you with specific advice to strengthen your claim against a labor market survey case and the litigation that is certain to follow, typically a Petition to Suspend or Modify your compensation. We will aggressively represent you, including by advancing all costs of litigation (such as doctors' deposition fees and court reporter transcript charges, etc.) and there will be no fee for our involvment unless we secure your rights to ongoing compensation benefits or a lump sum settlement on your terms.
If you have reached a point in your medical treatment or otherwise a status in your claim where a lump sum settlement makes sense to you, we will work to position your case in such a way that we have leverage to secure a large lump sum settlement that reflects your actual loss of wages that comes from any level of continuing disability in the workforce -- where even if you do become capable of returning to the working world, your earning power and ability to find and keep work will remain far weaker than if you had no injury. You need to be compensated for that loss.
After all, "labor market survey" hocus pocus aside, what real employer would hire someone with an ongoing work injury over someone who is entirely fit? That is the basic fiction of the labor market survey and the vocational interview. An injured worker is in an extremely compromised position even when they do become capable of light duty. Our philosphy is that the the disabled worker should be compensated for this -- with ongoing weekly benefits in the short term and with an appropriate lump sum settlement for injuries that are long-term.
Please call us today to discuss your claim: Tim Kennedy, 484-453-8144.