If You Were Hurt on the Job, You Need a Skilled Reading Workers’ Comp Attorney By Your Side
Everyone wants, and expects, to return home from work exactly how they arrived. But the unfortunate truth is that workplace injuries are a common reality, and are particularly prevalent in certain industries. Some research shows that some of the most common jobs in Reading, Pennsylvania, include factory workers and multiple healthcare roles, such as nursing assistant, home health aid, and registered nurse.
All of these jobs pose a particularly high threat of workplace injury. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that healthcare is the fastest growing sector in the U.S. financial system, but also that healthcare workers face “a wide range of hazards”. The same is true of any job that includes dealing with heavy machinery. It’s particularly important to understand your rights if you work in one of these roles, but the truth is, it’s important to understand no matter where you work. Workplace injuries and occupational illnesses can happen to anyone, and you want to be sure you know how to access the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has experienced a workplace injury or occupational illness in Reading, you are very likely entitled to coverage via Pennsylvania worker’s compensation. Workers’ comp can help make up for lost wages, cover medical expenses, and more. But the process can be complicated, and your best chance at success includes working with Reading workers’ compensation lawyers like those at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. Talk to a dedicated workers’ comp lawyer today with a free consultation to start the process and learn how we can protect your rights.
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What Kind of Coverage Does Workers’ Compensation Offer?
Workers’ compensation is, essentially, an insurance policy that many employers carry, which can then be used to provide coverage for lost wages, medical expenses, and more should an employee be injured at the workplace or while performing a work task. It also exists to prevent employers from suing their employees. In most cases, if you are injured at work or you develop an occupational illness, you are not legally allowed to file a personal injury suit against your employer. Instead, the compensation you need and deserve will come through workers’ comp.
Coverage applies to most workers around Pennsylvania, with a handful of exceptions.
If you were injured on your worksite, or while performing a task for your job, you may be able to receive financial coverage through workers’ compensation claims. Generally, workers’ comp covers two key areas: wage loss benefits, and medical care (or financial coverage for medical bills). Additionally, it can cover death benefits if a loved one is killed while performing a task for their job.
Often, a workplace injury means that the victim is unable to work for some period of time, whether that’s a few weeks, several years, or even indefinitely. Through workers’ comp, Reading residents can receive weekly checks that help to combat the financial burden of lost wages. The maximum amount that can be contained in these weekly checks changes each year; for the calendar year of 2023, the maximum weekly amount for lost wages that anyone can receive through workers’ comp is $1273.
However, not everyone receives the same amount; how much you can receive in lost wages depends on your pre-injury salary. If your pre-injury salary was between $1807.50 and $905.76, you can receive 66 ⅔ percent of that salary per week, up to the maximum of $1205. If your pre-injury salary was between $903.75 and $669.44, you can receive a weekly wage of $602.50. And finally, if your pre-injury weekly salary was $669.43 or less, you can receive 90 percent of that amount every week via worker’s comp.
In addition to this lost wage compensation, injured parties can also receive medical benefits through workers’ comp. This includes things like health care expenses, ongoing treatment such as physical therapy or rehabilitation work, disability payments, and more.
What Kind of Injuries and Illnesses Are Covered by Workers’ Comp?
As long as they occur in the course of performing your work duties, nearly all injuries and illnesses are covered by Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law. This is true even for injured workers with pre-existing conditions and illnesses. For example, if you have a heart condition or physical disability that you can prove was worsened by performing your job, you are most likely entitled to workers’ comp coverage.
Things like carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive stress injuries (injuries that are caused by repeated motions, putting an undue amount of pressure on a certain part of the body) are covered. These are extremely common injuries for warehouse workers, particularly those who perform a singular task with their hands for long stretches of time. It’s also common for warehouse workers to experience back injuries from carrying heavy materials on a daily basis.
The only real limitations are injuries that are self-inflicted, caused by intoxication or use of illegal drugs, or that occur as part of a violation of the law. For example, an intoxicated truck driver who gets into an accident while driving for work would not be able to seek workers’ compensation cases.
Do I Need a Lawyer For My Workers’ Compensation Claim in Reading, PA?
The workers’ compensation benefits system is designed, in theory, so that anyone should be able to access it and navigate it without assistance from any outside party, including an attorney. However, the grim reality is that too often, this system tries to take advantage of people who don’t know the full extent of their rights.
Often, an employer’s workers’ compensation policy dictates that a designated doctor of their choosing will be the one performing your assessments and determining whether you’re fit to return to work. Imagine an instance in which you’re still riddled with pain, but the doctor you’ve been provided with by your employer and their insurance company says you’re all good to start working again, and that there’s no need for you to receive any more benefits. In a situation like this, you need to fight back, and it’s difficult to do so without an attorney.
Another example: what if your employer attempts to refute that the injury happened on company time? This is an important issue for many remote workers; what does it mean to be injured “while working” if your worksite is your home? What about if you’re a driver, or in any profession that takes you out into the world to a variety of locations? There are also cases in which employers drag their feet in reporting the injury to the proper authorities, which can severely delay and damage your ability to receive the benefits you legally deserve.
In all of these cases, you have legal recourse, but you’ll need the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney to find it. Working with a workers’ comp attorney from the beginning ensures that you’re not played or short-changed at any point along the way. If your employer and their insurance provider know you’re working with a workers’ compensation lawyer, they’ll be far less likely to make the process difficult for you.
What is a Third Party Claim?
Sometimes, a workplace accident could be caused by another individual or company that is not involved with your employer. In situations such as these, you may be able to file a claim against a third party in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. If your work-related injury was caused by someone other than your employer, a workers’ comp lawyer can help you get compensation from that person.
A third-party claim allows you to sue for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. As long as the at-fault party does not work for your company, you can pursue both a workers’ compensation claim as well as a third-party claim. Some examples of a third-party claim include:
- Dangerous or hazardous conditions on the property, such as a dangerous dog at home or a gas leak in a building
- A car accident caused by a negligent driver
- A defective machine
It’s important to note that in Pennsylvania, you cannot sue your employer for a workplace accident. The reason is that as an employee, you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits even if you are at fault for the accident.
What is the Process of Securing Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If you are seeking compensation after a workplace injury in Reading, PA, it’s essential to move quickly; waiting too long at any step could result in a delay in your benefits. After your accident or occupational illness diagnosis, the first crucial step is to alert your employer. This report is what gets the ball rolling, so hesitating to report it can have consequences. It’s not uncommon for injured workers to fear anger or pushback from their boss, which ultimately prevents them from reporting their injury. Don’t fall into this trap: if you have been hurt at work, you have every right to seek workers’ comp. Your employer pays for this insurance for a reason.
While it’s best to report your injury immediately, you have 21 days in which you can report it and still receive workers’ compensation benefits starting from the date of the injury. After 21 days, benefits will begin instead from the date of the report. If you wait 120 days or longer, you may lose your rights to these benefits altogether.
After your report, your employer should take over and pass this information along to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation via a First Report of Injury. They are obligated to do so within three days of you notifying them of your injury or illness. Unfortunately, employers do sometimes drag their feet at this step; if you fear this is happening, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for advice on how to proceed.
In a case where your employer does file the report in a timely manner, it is then up to the employer’s insurance provider to determine whether the claim is valid. Best case, the claim is approved and you are eligible to begin receiving the appropriate benefits. But of course, sometimes completely valid claims are denied, for a plethora of reasons.
What Do I Do If My Reading Workers’ Comp Claim is Denied?
If the insurance company has decided to deny your claim for whatever reason, they will reach out and let you know. They may try to claim that the injury didn’t happen on company time or company property. They may try to argue that even if the injury does exist, it does not require medical treatment or time off work. But no matter what their reasoning, you have every right to fight back.
If the insurance company lets you know that your claim has been denied, you have three years from the date of the injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. Fighting back against a denied claim can be a complex and exhausting process, and you are much more likely to succeed with the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Contact a Reading workers’ compensation attorney at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today to begin the process of fighting for your rightful benefits.
Why Choose Our Reading Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
The PA workers’ compensation system is extremely complex, and navigating it after the wake of a life-altering injury is often simply undoable. That’s why our law firm exists: to fight on your behalf for justice and compensation, while you focus on rest and recovery.
The Reading, PA workers’ compensation lawyers here at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are experts in all things workers’ comp and personal injury; our team consists of many excellent, highly experienced lawyers and dozens of excellent legal support staff. Our clients come first, always, and when you work with Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, you can rest assured that you have someone on your side.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, each of our Reading personal injury lawyers has over a decade of experience, as well as hands-on trial and courtroom experience. While most personal injury and workers’ comp cases do settle out of court, you can feel confident knowing that we can protect you in a trial should that become necessary. We do not get paid unless we win your case.
If you are in the process of a workers’ compensation claim, or if you have questions about your rights to these benefits, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn how we can help protect your interests.