MAKING SURE THAT WORKERS’ COMPENSATION WORKS FOR YOU
September 6th, 2017 | Donald C. Ligorio
Every year, more than 4.5 million workers in the United States suffer a serious job-related injury or illness. Many will be unable to work for a long period of time. Some will never be able to work again. All will face the prospect of medical expenses and lost wages.
Compensating Injured Workers
The concept of compensation for the injured worker is thought to date all the way back to approximately 2050 B.C. During the early Industrial Revolution, an injured worker's only recourse was through a tort lawsuit. Filing such a suit was beyond the limited means of most people. What’s more, the doctrines of contributory negligence, assumption of the risk and the “fellow servant” rule made winning a lawsuit very difficult.
States began passing comprehensive workers' compensation laws at the beginning of the 20th century, with the first being Wisconsin in 1911. Pennsylvania enacted it’s Workers' Compensation Act in 1915. The final state to pass workers' compensation legislation was Mississippi in 1948.
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated program that provides payments to employed who are injured or disabled in connection with work. Lawsuits against employers are precluded by workers comp. However HKQ Law Attorney Donald C. Ligorio notes that “a third-party may be sued if that party was responsible for the injury.”
Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation
Nearly every Pennsylvania employee is covered by the state’s workers’ compensation program. Employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage for all of their employees, including seasonal and part-time workers.
Some employees are covered by other compensation laws, including federal civilian employees, railroad workers, longshoremen, shipyard and harbor workers. Others who may not be covered include volunteer workers, agricultural laborers, casual employees, domestics and employees who have been granted a personal religious exemption from the Act. Certain types of executive officers of corporations may elect exemption from the Act.
You may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation if your job causes an injury, illness or disease. Certain circumstances may make an injured employee ineligible for Worker’s Comp. Occupational diseases under the Act are covered if caused by or aggravated by employment.
Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law provides several types of workers’ compensation benefits:
Payment for Lost Wages
Wage-loss benefits are available if it is determined that you are totally disabled and unable to work or partially disabled and receiving wages less than your pre-injury earnings. Wage-loss benefits are equal to approximately two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a weekly maximum.
If the injury results in death, surviving dependents may be entitled to benefits.
Specific Loss Benefits
If you have lost the permanent use of all or part of your thumb, finger, hand, arm, leg, foot, toe, sight, hearing or have a serious and permanent disfigurement on your head, face or neck, you may be entitled to a specific loss award.
In the event of a work-related illness or injury, you are entitled, if covered under the Act, to the payment of related reasonable surgical and medical services rendered by a physician or other health care provider. Medicine, supplies, hospital treatment and services, orthopedic appliances and prostheses are also covered for as long as they are needed.
You are free to choose your own health care provider to treat your work injury unless the employer accepts your claim and has posted in your workplace a list of six or more physicians or health care providers. An employer must also provide you with a copy of the list after you report an injury. Your employer and its insurance company will not be responsible to pay for medical treatment if they have complied with all the requirements and you chose to treat with a provider who is not on the list. You are to continue treatment with that provider or another on the list for a period of 90 days following the first visit.
In addition to workers’ compensation benefits you may be eligible for additional disability benefits from Social Security if the injury is a very serious one where you won’t be able to work for a year or more.
Reporting A Workplace Injury
Any injury or work-related illness should be reported to your employer or supervisor immediately. You must tell your employer that you were injured in the course of employment and inform your employer of the date and place of injury. Failure to notify the employer can result in the delay or denial of benefits.
Once you give notice of your injury/illness to your employer, they must immediately report your claim to their insurer or, if self- insured, report it to the person responsible for management of the employer’s workers’ compensation program. If you miss a shift or day of work due to your injury, your employer must also report your claim to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
If your claim is denied, you will need to file a petition with the Pennsylvania Office of Adjudication. The appeal process can be complex, and is best handled by an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Your employer may attempt to stop your benefits payments for a number of reasons. If you receive a Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend your workers' compensation benefits, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
HKQ Law assists injured employees. We also can help with Social Security disability benefits, Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, wage and hour disputes, and unemployment compensation claims. “We recommend that anyone who has suffered a serious injury contact an experienced attorney to explain their rights and help them navigate this often complex and difficult system,” said HKQ Law Attorney Donald Ligorio.
If you’ve suffered a serious injury or illness and your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, or your payments have been stopped, contact HKQ Law at (800) 760-1529 for your free consultation. No one will work harder for you.