Workers’ compensation exists because, unfortunately, workplace injuries and illnesses are simply a reality across all professions. However, there are some jobs and industries that have far higher rates of accidents and injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists health services as one of the ten industries with the highest rates of fatal workplace injuries. Additionally, OSHA reports that in 2019, hospitals recorded 221,400 work-related injuries and illnesses. That is a rate of 5.5 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employees, far higher than the right for most private sector jobs.
If you or a loved one is a healthcare worker and has experienced a workplace injury or illness, we are so sorry. We can’t undo your experience, but we can stand beside you as you fight to seek your rightful compensation. In many cases, a workers’ compensation claim is the best way to make sure your medical bills are paid and your lost wages accounted for after a workplace injury. Let us guide you through the workers compensation process and work on your behalf so you can focus on the more important things, like your physical well being and getting back to the things you love. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a system that is set up to protect both employees and employers. On the employee side, workers’ compensation benefits provide financial assistance to those who have been injured on the job. Workers compensation does this by covering medical bills, providing compensation for lost wages, and more. On the employer side, employers are protected from being sued by their employees. Rather than seek workers compensation through a personal injury suit, employees can seek the same benefits by filing for workers’ comp.
What Kinds of Workplace Injuries are Most Common for Healthcare Workers?
Healthcare is a vast field with many specific roles and titles within them, but many of these jobs involve physical exertion, interacting with drugs or chemicals, and other potentially hazardous situations. Some of the most common workplace injuries for healthcare professionals include:
- Repetitive stress injuries. These are injuries that, as the name implied, are caused by repeating the same physical action over and over. These can place an undue amount of strain on a particular body part, potentially causing long term damage. Healthcare workers who have particularly physical jobs, like orderlies, are at even higher risk for this kind of injury. These injured workers commonly have issues with injured wrists, elbows, and other joints.
- Sharps injuries. Nurses and medical assistants, by necessity, deal with plenty of sharp objects every day. In fact, one study showed that out of all healthcare workers, nurses were the most likely to experience sharps injuries.
- Chemical and drug exposure. Studies have shown that nurses and medical assistants who are exposed to chemicals on a regular basis are at the risk of experiencing negative health consequences. Those who experience “high exposure” to drugs of any kind (which, in this case means once a week for at least ten years) were more likely to develop cancer.
- Stress. People may not realize that extreme stress in the workplace can cause real physical harm, and of course, stress levels are inherently high when dealing with a person’s health and life. In fact, nurses are at a particularly high risk for suicide.
- Slips and falls. Slip, trip, and fall accidents are so common amongst healthcare workers that the CDC provides a pamphlet specifically explaining how to prevent them. In a job that often requires running and rushing with bulky objects, it’s no wonder that slipping, falling, and therefore experiencing an injury is a legitimate concern.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim as a Healthcare Worker?
If you are a healthcare worker and you have sustained an injury or occupational illness while at work, or while performing a work-related task, you are most likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In the case of an injury, it’s very important that you alert your employer as soon as possible. If you alert your employer quickly, you can receive workers compensation benefits starting from the date of the injury.
If you wait longer than 21 days, benefits will start only from the date of your claim, and after 21 days, you may lose your claim entirely. But it’s best to not wait even 21 days; waiting that long can raise suspicion on the insurer’s behalf and cause them to question the veracity of your workers compensation claim.
Once you’ve alerted your employer, it is their obligation to file a First Report of Injury with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. They will then notify their insurer or insurance company, and it’s then up to the insurance company to examine the accident and injury and determine whether the claim is valid. If the insurance company accepts your claim, you will receive a Notice of Compensation Payable, and will begin to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
In some cases, you will be issued a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable, which means the insurance company has not yet reached a decision about your workers compensation claim, but is willing to offer you some benefits in the meantime. It’s in your best interest to hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer such as the Pittsburgh workers’ compensation attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys as soon as possible after your injury.
What Do I Do If My Claim is Denied?
The risk of a workers compensation claim being denied is one of the biggest reasons to hire a lawyer immediately. With an attorney, you have the best chance of fighting this denial and receiving the benefits you deserve. There are many reasons for a workers compensation claim to be denied, and in almost all cases, this decision can be petitioned and appealed with the help of your attorney.
Your claim may be denied because your employer claims there is insufficient evidence to prove that the accident and injury were work related. Perhaps the workplace injury was not reported in time, or the claim was filed late, or there is no evidence of the injury happening on company time. But in any of these cases, you absolutely have the right to appeal. In fact, many worker’s comp insurance providers rely upon the idea that most people won’t want to take the time or effort required to appeal a decision; if you and your attorney fight back, you have a great chance of winning.
Under Pennsylvania law, you and your lawyer have three years from the date of the workplace injury to file a Claim Petition if your claim is denied. This petition is then assigned to a judge, and a hearing is scheduled. Ultimately, the judge will circulate a decision, and if you and your attorney would like to appeal this decision as well, you have 20 days from the time of the judge’s decision to do so. In this case, you would then file an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board.
All of this can sound overwhelming, but it’s extremely possible with the aid of a Pittsburgh healthcare workers’ compensation lawyer to successfully navigate the workers compensation system.
What Kind of Compensation Will I Get or my Lost Wages?
Part of the role of the workers’ compensation system is to make up for the injured party’s lost wages, though there is a limit to how much each person can receive. Generally (though there are exceptions), most people will receive about ⅔ of their pre-injury salary each week. Under Pennsylvania law, as of the calendar year 2022, this amount is capped at $1,205 weekly, though this amount changes each year. Additionally, how long you can receive these benefits depends on the specifics and severity of your injury or illness.
Remember that if you have any issue receiving your workers compensation benefits in a timely fashion, or if you are unsure whether you are receiving full benefits, you can contact a Pittsburgh workers’ compensation lawyer at any time.
If I Need to Take Time Off from Work, Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Benefits?
Depending on the extent of your injury, you may need to take some length of time off of work. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover a significant portion of your lost wages during this time, but you may be wondering whether it’s possible to also file for unemployment as you await being well enough to return to work. In the state of Pennsylvania, it is not illegal to file for both unemployment and worker’s compensation benefits, but in most cases it’s simply not beneficial for you to do so.
Both workers’ compensation and unemployment are state-funded programs, which means that the money ultimately comes from the same source. Because of this, whatever benefits you collect through one program will be offset by the other. In other words, you cannot receive double benefits by collecting from both programs. If you are receiving unemployment benefits at the time that your workers compensation benefits kick into action, your workers’ comp benefits will be reduced in accordance with the unemployment you received. You will not have to pay anything back out of your own pocket; rather, your unemployment benefits will be docked based on how much you’re receiving through workers’ compensation.
In some select cases, you may be able to receive workers compensation benefits from both systems for the same injury, though not at the same time. For example, if you have been injured and your workers’ compensation claim is denied, you may be able to file for unemployment as you undergo the process of disputing your workers’ comp claim. If this is something you’re considering, you should speak to your Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys attorney. They can advise you as to what is the best course of action for your specific case. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
Why Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Workers Compensation Lawyers?
Munley law was founded with a mission to be a voice for the voiceless, and to provide all people with access to justice. Healthcare professionals, by nature of their job, spend their days covering for others, all while being overworked and underpaid. At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, it’s our duty and our honor to care for healthcare workers themselves. The healthcare industry can be extremely grueling and demanding, often resulting in injuries and illnesses that have a lasting impact on the industry’s employees. If you have been hurt at work, now is the time to let someone else take care of you. Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys workers compensation attorneys in Pittsburgh PA ar here to do just that.
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is one of the premiere personal injury law firms in the nation and in Pittsburgh PA. We work tirelessly to achieve both justice and compensation for victims. The firm has been fighting to protect the rights of all people since 1959, and it’s our honor to continue that fight with you.
When you work with Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, you can rest assured that an experienced and dedicated attorney will be by your side every step of the way. We will work hard to secure you the workers’ compensation you are rightfully owed; in a case where a trial becomes necessary, we have both the skills and resources to protect you in the courtroom as well. And best of all: you do not pay a thing unless we win for you. Contact us today for a free initial consultation, and to begin learning how we can protect your interests.
Pittsburgh Practice Areas
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys
510 Third Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219