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Monday, October 21, 2013

Computer woes plague Pa. worker comp system

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New software was designed to modernize the process of filing claims. Instead, the opposite has happened, according to interviews with attorneys, judges and others who use the system.

The glitches range from being unable to upload claims or other supporting legal documents into the system to having court paperwork disappear.

The result: Injured workers and their lawyers have been unable to get hearings, creating a backlog of cases at the Labor and Industry Department's Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

Attorneys for workers, employers and insurance companies are, in some cases, not getting notified of decisions in their cases. And judges and their staff have even been unable to upload critical documents into the system.

"The intent was good, but the delivery has failed," said Philadelphia attorney Leonard A. Cohen, who represents injured workers and who is on a steering committee working with the state to oversee the implementation of the system. "We are all in favor of hanging in here. But in the meantime, the [new software] is causing the system to almost come to a halt."

The new system, designed by New York-based Deloitte Consulting LLC, went live on September 9 and the problems started immediately.

Cohen said he has filed 20 petitions on behalf of clients seeking workers' compensation since early September, and not one has been assigned to a...

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