A Lawyer Can Help Navigate Workers Comp Process
If you’ve been injured on the job, you may be stressed and wondering “Can I lose my job while on workers compensation in Pennsylvania?” The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation program can seem confusing and intimidating to an employee, especially if you’re trying to navigate it on top of dealing with a workplace injury. We will break down exactly what workers’ compensation is, how you can access it, and what to do if you’re facing termination in the process of your claim.
Aside from seeking medical attention for your work injury, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is hire an experienced Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys workers’ compensation attorney to help protect your rights. Munley workers’ comp lawyers offer a free consultation to prospective clients where they will answer any question you have regarding your claim.
There is no need to face this tough situation by yourself. Contact us today and get started with a passionate PA workers compensation lawyer who will work diligently to protect your rights so you can focus on the most important thing after a work injury – getting your life back to normal.
Explaining the Workers’ Compensation System
Worker’s compensation is payment made to employees who suffered workplace injuries or illness in the course of their work duties. The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation program was founded in 1915 with the passing of The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. The law mandates that employers must purchase workers’ compensation coverage, much like an insurance policy, before opening their business.
If one of their employees is injured, they will use that coverage to pay for medical bills and lost wages. In return, the injured worker will not directly sue their employer. Therefore, the law protects both the employee and the employer in the event of a workplace injury.
Workers’ compensation covers reasonable and necessary medical costs related to your injury including care by physicians, chiropractors, and other health care providers. Workers’ comp will also pay for necessary surgeries. Hospital stays, prescription medicine, and orthopedic appliances are also covered.
What Are My Rights to Workers’ Compensation?
As an employee in the state of Pennsylvania, you are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation on your first day on the job. On the first day, you are guaranteed to:
The Right to Benefits
These are the benefits of workers’ compensation – payments for wage loss and medical attention following your workplace accident.
The Right to Negotiate a Lump Sum Settlement
Lump sum settlements are when an employee receives the workers’ compensation benefits in one big payment rather than being paid on a weekly basis.
The Right to Control Your Treatment
You have the right to choose your own doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Anyone, including your employer, who tells you that you must see a specific doctor in order to collect benefits is not telling the truth. If your employer tried to deny benefits until you see a doctor they prefer, speak to a Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys workers’ compensation attorney today.
The Right to a Hearing
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, your workers’ comp lawyer can and will escalate the case through the appeals process. You have the right to have your case heard by a workers’ compensation judge.
The Right to Recover from Your Injury
You have the right to take the time to recover completely from your injury. You cannot be forced back to work. Your doctor is the only one who can clear you to start work again.
What Happens to My Workers’ Compensation Benefits If I Lose My Job?
Your workers’ compensation benefits should not be affected if you are laid off or are terminated while receiving them. However, if you think you were improperly fired as retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim, then you should speak to a Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Retaliatory termination of an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim is discrimination and it is illegal. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated after filing a workers’ compensation claim, your attorney will seek compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and punitive damages.
How Do I Document Discrimination At Work?
The more you document, the more you will give your workers’ comp lawyer to use in a case of retaliatory termination. The best way to take documentation is by writing down (either in your phone or a protected notebook) any events or interactions you have at work. Note the date and time of the event or conversation and share this with your lawyer.
Keep in mind, your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you for:
- Family Status
- Whistleblower status
- Making a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination
- Filing for workers’ compensation
- Taking family or medical leave
Your attorney will ask if your working hours decreased after you filed a workers’ comp claim. Did you face a sudden demotion, or threats from your employer? Were you given undesirable work shifts after you made the claim? Was work made more difficult for you, or were false claims of a poor job performance made? Any mistreatment by your employer after you filed a workers’ compensation claim should not be tolerated. Tell your Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys workers’ compensation lawyer even the smallest details.
Can I Resign While I’m on Workers’ Compensation?
You can resign or change jobs while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Your workers’ compensation claim is based on when your work injury occurred. If you were qualified to receive benefits at the time of your injury, then those benefits will be available to you.
If you resign or quit your job while on workers’ compensation, your former employer must continue to pay for medical treatment that is reasonable and necessary to the injury. If you are receiving total disability wage loss benefits, which are payments made when the worker is unable to perform any work due to the injury, you will keep receiving those payments until you recover or work becomes available. If you are receiving partial disability benefits, you will continue to receive those until you recover or are able to take a job that pays more.
What if I Return to Work on Restrictions and then Lose My Job?
There are times when a doctor may clear you to return to work on certain restrictions. You may not be able to perform all the duties you once did, but you may take on lighter tasks while you continue recovering from your work-related injury. For example, if you are a Pennsylvania factory worker, you may be able to return to work, but your doctor may restrict specific activities associated with your job.
If you return to work for lighter duties, your employer may still have to pay workers’ compensation. This happens most often when you are cleared for a different type of job to accommodate the disabilities from the work injury and the new job does not pay as well.
You are not fully protected against losing your job, even if you return to work on restrictions from your doctor. While nothing gives your employer the right to retaliatory termination, your employer may give you a reason beyond the workers’ compensation claim. If you suspect that you were unfairly let go after returning to work for lighter duties, speak to Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys workers’ compensation attorney today to consider all legal options.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Frequently Asked Questions
What are at-will contract employees? Does it affect workers’ comp?
A: Contract employees or independent contractors are similar to regular employees in some regard. They both work for a company and they are both at-will employees in the state of Pennsylvania. That means the independent contractor and the regular employee both have the freedom to leave the company at any point and at any time.
The difference between an independent contractor and a full-time employee is that independent contractors must pay their own medicare, social security, and income taxes. They usually provide their own equipment for the job and are responsible for the costs associated with the work. Full-time workers are usually employed for an extended period of time are financially dependent on the employer.
Therefore, only employees, not independent contractors, are protected by Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance. If you are an independent contractor, you are not covered by the company’s workers’ compensation.
If you are an independent contractor and sustained a serious injury on the job, you still have options to recover compensation. Speak with a Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys personal injury lawyer to discuss filing a personal injury claim and prove the company’s negligence directly led to your injury.
Is there a statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims?
A: Yes, there is a statute of limitations to file a workers’ comp claim. The injured employee has three years from the date of the injury or disability to file a claim. There is one exception, however. If you or your loved one developed a disease in the line of your work duties (like mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure) the disease must occur within 300 weeks from the date you were last employed in the job where you developed or contracted the illness.
How much will I receive in compensation?
A: If you are totally disabled by your work injury, you may receive weekly benefits that equal about two-thirds of your weekly pay, with a maximum of $1,130 per week. This number changes yearly – you can follow the changes via the Pennsylvania Department of Labor.
You can receive these benefits for two years. After two years, your case will be reviewed. If your status is not longer at least 50% disabled, you will move to a “partial disability.” When this happens, your ability to work and your earning capacity may be reduced and can be compensated by a weekly amount that is two-thirds the difference between your present earnings and what you earned prior to the injury. Your partial disability benefits will last for 500 weeks, or for as long as you are working at a lower wage rate.
Hire an Experienced PA Workers Compensation Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s important to have an experienced PA workers compensation lawyer on your side. We have been fighting for hardworking Pennsylvania workers for more than 60 years. We have the knowledge, experience, and expertise to ensure your employer gets you what you need to recover.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We can help discuss the details of your specific case and help you navigate where to go from here.