Whether your career involves sitting at a desk or physical labor, you hope that you’ll never be injured at work. Workplace injuries are common and can have a serious financial impact on you and your family.When you are injured on the job, your employer and their insurer will immediately take steps to protect themselves. But what is best for your employer isn’t always best for you.As an injured worker, you rely on Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws for help covering your medical expenses and lost wages. Unfortunately, the workers’ comp claims process isn’t always an easy one. The workers’ comp attorneys at Hagelgans & Veronis know these laws by heart. We’ve helped hundreds of individuals navigate the workers’ comp claim process and get the compensation they deserve.
Who is Covered by Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law
Workers’ comp laws protect employees who develop an occupational illness or are injured on the job. Pennsylvania requires almost every employer to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employers who don’t can be subject to lawsuits from employees and criminal prosecution by the state.There are some employers who are exempt from providing workers’ compensation insurance to certain employees. These exemptions include:
Employees covered under another workers’ comp act, like railroad workers and federal employees
Domestic servants (housekeepers, nannys, etc.)
Agricultural workers who work less than 30 days or earn less than $1,200/year
Employees who have been granted exemption from workers’ comp laws due to religious beliefs or their standing as an executive of a corporation
When am I Entitled to Benefits?
You are entitled to benefits if you have suffered a work injury. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, a work injury is any injury, medical condition, or disease caused by someone’s job. Pennsylvania law does not specify a list of injuries; the only requirement is the injury or illness must be related to or caused by your occupation.As an employee in Pennsylvania, your workers’ compensation coverage begins the day you are hired. When you file an injury or illness report, your employer has 21 days to deny the claim or accept it and begin paying benefits.
What Benefits am I Entitled to?
In Pennsylvania, workers’ comp benefits are based on your disability status. There are two kinds of disability statuses in our state: total and partial.Total disability status applies when you’re unable to work due to your injuries or illness. This can last up to 104 weeks, at which time your employer can require a medical exam to determine if you’re at least 50 percent impaired. If you are less than 50 percent disabled, your status may change to partial disability.Partial disability status allows you to receive benefits up to 500 weeks. An employee on partial disability will still receive benefits even if they return to work at a lower paying job. If a a qualified physician’s determination shows the employees level of impairment is 50 percent or higher, they may be able to file for total disability status.The benefits you’re entitled to depend on whether your disability is total or partial. In general, some of the benefits you might receive include:
Lost Wages: If your injury or illness has kept you from working, you’ll receive benefits calculated based on your average weekly wage. This usually amounts to two-thirds of your weekly salary before you were injured.
Medical Bills: If you’re injured on the job, you’re entitled to payment of “related reasonable surgical and medical services” provided by a doctor or other medical professional. This should include medicine, supplies, therapy, prosthetics, etc.
Specific Loss Benefits: If you have permanently or temporarily lost the use of your thumb, finger, arm, leg, foot, toe, sight or hearing, you may be able to receive benefits.
Disfigurement Benefits: Much like specific loss benefits, if you’ve suffered a serious or permanent disfigurement on your head, face, or neck, you can receive monetary benefits.
Death Benefits: If an employee passes away, their spouse or surviving family members may apply for benefits to supplement lost wages and pay for funeral expenses. This is typically two-thirds of the deceased’s salary but can vary depending on the situation.
What to Do If You’re Injured on the Job
If you’ve been injured or have contracted an occupational illness, you may find the claim process intimidating. The following tips can be used as guidelines for what to do after your injury or illness is diagnosed:
Report it to your employer ASAP. You will have to fill out paperwork so your employer can file your claim.
See a doctor as soon as you can. In Pennsylvania, you may choose your own doctor unless your employer accepts your claim and gives you a list of six or more approved physicians.
Follow the doctor’s instructions. You must continue treatment with an approved health care provider for 90 days after your initial visit.
Get your medical records and provide a copy to your employer. These records should outline your course of treatment, list your medications, and detail work restrictions.
Track how long you’ve been away from work so when it comes time to receive benefits, you’ll get as much lost wages benefits as possible.
Keep the receipts for medical bills, prescriptions, and equipment you’ve purchased as a result of your injury (crutches, wheelchairs, etc.).
Despite what the law says, some employers will make it difficult for you to get your benefits. Some may even deny your claim altogether. If your claim is denied, you can file a petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. If you have questions about your claim, contact the WCOA Resource Center at 1-844-237-6316 or by email at WCOAResourceCenter@pa.gov.
When to Hire a Workers' Comp Lawyer
If your claim goes well, you may never need a workers’ compensation attorney. Unfortunately, even cases that begin on a good note can end badly. If this happens, you’ll be better off with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney by your side. No matter how confident you are that things will go well, you have nothing to lose by consulting with a lawyer.At Halgelgans & Veronis, we only represent injured workers; never employers or insurance companies. We know how disruptive a work injury or occupational illness is to your daily life. We’ll carefully handle your workers’ comp case from start to finish, so that you can focus on recovering and getting back to work.
Contact us to schedule your free and confidential consultation at (717) 295-7009.
Speak Directly with Our Attorneys
From the initial free consultation, your case will be handled by an experienced injury attorney, not a paralegal or legal secretary.