Workplace accidents happen, and when they do the last thing an injured worker should have to worry about is whether coverage is in place to compensate him while he recovers.
Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act requires employers to provide coverage for nearly all employees regardless of full-time, part-time, or seasonal status. However, volunteers and independent contractors may not be covered.
If you have been injured at work, let the workers’ compensation attorneys at Munley Law help you get the most out of your compensation claim. Our workers’ comp lawyers will review your case, help you gather any documents you need, and work tirelessly until you win the compensation you are entitled to.
What is the Workers’ Compensation Act?
Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act specifies compensation to workers who are injured in the workplace, regardless of who may have been at fault. Coverage under the employer’s insurance begins with employment, so workers are protected from the very first day on the job.
This act sets the ground work for how compensation claims play out and help to hold employers accountable for the safety of the workplace and their employees. Some industries, including warehouses, leave employees more susceptible to injury due to the rigorous nature of the job.
I Don’t Remember Opting into Workers’ Compensation Coverage, Am I Still Covered?
For employees, workers’ compensation coverage isn’t something you opt in or out of. It is a specific insurance coverage most employers are required to carry in order to protect and take care of employees who sustain injuries or illnesses at or related to work.
Nearly all employers are required by Pennsylvania law to provide workers’ compensation coverage. Most employers will adhere to the laws requiring coverage because failing to provide compensation coverage to employees leaves the employer open to both civil and criminal lawsuits.
The Department of Labor and Industry outlines a very small group of exempted employees from the requirement: those who employ domestic servants, agricultural workers who work fewer than 30 days or earn less than $1,200 in a calendar year, or people who are otherwise covered, such as railroad workers, longshoremen, or federal employees.
For most employees, coverage is not needed to be a question. In exchange for your work, your employer provides your paycheck, applicable benefits, and workers’ compensation coverage in case of a work-related injury or accident. If you are not in one of the exempted categories, the only reason you would not be eligible for your employer’s coverage is if you are classified as an independent contractor instead of an employee.
How Do I Know if I’m an Employee or an Independent Contractor?
Understanding the relationship you have with the person or company who provides your paycheck can affect your workers’ compensation claim. According to the IRS, a general rule for differentiating employees versus contractors is how much control the payer has over the work being done.
An employee is subject to employer control over what is done and how it is done. An independent contractor has much more freedom, as the payer has control only over the final result (the final product she is paying for).
While this rule may shed some light on your employment status, you may still have some questions. Here are a few other considerations when looking at your employment status:
- Taxes: An employee will generally receive a W-2 form from an employer for tax purposes. An independent contractor generally receives a 1099-MISC form, as long as the payer has paid $600 or more. Additionally, an employer is responsible for withholding various taxes from an employee’s paycheck, but an independent contractor is responsible for her own withholdings.
- Benefits: Generally jobs only offer benefits to employees. Independent contractors are responsible for their own health insurance, time off, and retirement plans.
- Job Permanence: Employees generally operate under an indefinite employment length, whereas independent contractors are brought on for specific projects or periods of time. It’s important to note, though, that this is not always an indicator, as in the case of seasonal or temporary employees.
- Equipment: If you supply your own equipment to get the job done, you are most likely an independent contractor.
Keep in mind that even these other considerations may not always guarantee employee or independent contractor status. Additionally, just because your employer calls you an independent contractor doesn’t make you an independent contractor. Perhaps the most hard and fast definition provided by the IRS is simply that an independent contractor is self-employed.
Employers are subject to consequences for misclassifying employees as independent contractors, but that doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen—or that some employers might still try to sneak some misclassifications through.
If you believe that you are wrongly identified as an independent contractor and are therefore being denied your right to compensation for a work-related injury or illness, our workers’ compensation lawyers are ready to help.
Am I Covered by Workers’ Compensation even as a Union Warehouse Employee?
Warehouse workers may be at higher risk for work-related injuries than other employees, given the physical nature of the job and the variety of equipment regularly used within a warehouse. Even if your union dues entitle you to union-financed compensation or help during a work-related injury, you are still eligible for compensation from your employer.
The employer is responsible for providing a safe workplace, competent and adequate staffing levels, safe tools and equipment, and warnings of dangers and training on how to avoid them. The employer is also responsible for enforcing safety rules and regulations. Failure to do any of these things may result in increased workers’ compensation claims, as well as action from relevant labor unions.
Labor unions can also factor into workplace safety standards and workers’ compensation. Though the compensation claims themselves are much the same for union and non-union employees, union employees may have additional layers due to bargaining agreements between the employer and union. Munley Law workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced in winning union-employee compensation claims and are ready to go to bat for you.
Why is Munley Law My Best Choice?
At Munley Law, our workers’ compensation attorneys have an established track record of getting the best results for our clients. You are entitled to compensation that allows you the time and financial stability you need to recover from your work-place injury or illness, and we won’t rest until we’ve won a recovery in your favor. In the event of a permanent injury or disability, we work hard to make sure that you don’t suffer further because of stingy compensation.
Our lawyers are experienced in workers’ compensation suits and have tried thousands of various personal injury cases. We are committed to working harder on your behalf than any other firm or lawyer out there.
We’ve settled multi-million dollar cases for our clients who have been injured on the job and we’re ready to bring our cumulative decades of experience to bear on your case. We don’t collect any fees until we’ve made a settlement in your favor. We have your best interest in mind and we will keep you informed every step of the way.
Call 844-969-7243 today for a free consultation and take the first step toward winning your due compensation.