Frequently Asked Workers’ Compensation Questions
Q: I’ve Been in an Accident at Work. What’s the First Thing I Should Do?
A: Right after a job-related accident, no matter how minor it may seem, you should immediately report your injury to your supervisor and make sure that a written record is made. Once you report the injury, seek medical assistance as soon as possible to learn how severe the injury is and get treatment. Both these two steps are crucial for your claim. If you fail to report the accident to your supervisor as soon as possible, your claim may be denied.
Q: Is There a Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Compensation Cases?
A: Under Pennsylvania law, a notice of any injury suffered while on the job must be provided to a supervisor at your place of employment within 120 days of the date of injury. Failure to tell your employer can result in your claim being denied, so it is very important that you make the report immediately after the accident. Keep in mind that to be successful, any workers’ compensation case must be filed no later than three years from the date of injury or disability.
If you or a family member suffer from a disease that was contracted during your employment (such as Black Lung disease from working in a coal mine, or mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure), the laws are a bit different. According to Pennsylvania law, the disease and inability to work must occur within 300 weeks from the date you were last employed in the job where you contracted the disease.
Q: How Do I Know if I am Covered Under My Employer’s Workers’ Compensation?
A: Almost every PA employee is covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. This includes all full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers. Nearly all businesses, no matter how big or small, are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Workers in certain industries may be covered under different compensation laws specific to that particular industry, such as railroad or shipyard workers.
However, if you work on a volunteer basis or are an independent contractor, you may not be considered an employee and therefore may not be covered.
Q: Can I Choose My Own Healthcare Provider?
A: For the first 90 days of medical care, you are required to choose from a list of at least six doctors provided by your employer. If your employer does not provide a list of options, you are free to choose your own. You may also choose another doctor from the list if the first doctor selected is unsatisfactory to you. Your employ
If you require treatment beyond 90 days, you then have the option to choose your own doctor. If, after 90 days, you do decide to choose a doctor that is not on your employer’s list, you must notify your employer within five days after your first visit.
Q: How Much Will I Be Compensated?
A: Your compensation will depend on whether you are totally or partially disabled. If you are totally disabled by your work injury and are unable to work at all, you are entitled to weekly benefits equal to about two-thirds of your weekly pay, or a maximum of $1,130, as of 2021. This number changes yearly.
After two years, your disability status may be reviewed. At this time, if you are no longer at least 50% disabled (based on American Medical Association guidelines) your disability will convert to a partial disability. A partial disability that reduces your ability to work and your earning capacity may be compensated by a weekly amount that is two-thirds the difference between your present earnings and what you earned prior to the injury. You may receive these partial disability benefits for 500 weeks or for as long as you are working at a lower wage.
Q: When Will I Receive Workers’ Compensation Payments?
A: As long as you are not denied compensation, you should begin receiving benefits approximately 21 days after you reported your injury to your employer.
Q: What Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cover?
A: According to the PA Workers’ Compensation Act, if your work either causes an injury or illness, you are entitled to workers’ compensation. For example, lifting a heavy box in a warehouse causes an injury to your back. Workers’ compensation will cover your injury since it occurred while you were on the job.
In addition, if a workplace injury aggravates a pre-existing condition, such as a previous back strain, you could receive compensation. Unfortunately, many employers may try to deny workers’ comp because of the previous condition but according to Pennsylvania law, you are entitled.
Q: What Don’t Workers’ Compensation Benefits Cover?
A: If an injury was intentionally self-inflicted, or caused by violating the law, such as taking illegal drugs, you will not be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Q: What is a Third-Party Claim and How Can It Apply to My Workers’ Comp Claim?
A: In certain circumstances, a third-party claim may be pursued for a workplace injury. For example, while driving as a delivery driver, you get into a car accident with an at-fault driver. Not only will you be able to claim workers’ compensation since you were working at the time, but you can file a personal injury claim for the car accident.
Q: Can I Sue My Employer for a Workplace Accident?
A: In the State of Pennsylvania, you are unable to sue your employer for your accident, even if the employer is responsible for the accident.
Q: What is “Light Duty” and Does My Employer Have to Provide It?
A: Light duty is a job that is physically or mentally less challenging than an injured worker’s normal job responsibilities. The purpose of light-duty work allows you to return to work while you still receive workers’ comp benefits.
It is up to your physician to determine whether you are eligible for light-duty work, not your employer. However, if your employer does provide light-duty work and it has been cleared by your doctor, it is in your best interest to accept the duties.
Q: What Should I Do If My Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied?
A: It is not uncommon for an insurance company to deny a workers’ compensation claim. If you are denied workers’ compensation, you have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. In this case, it is best to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer who is familiar with the entire claims process and who knows the intricacies of workers’ compensation laws. The right lawyer will be instrumental in ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Q: Can My Employer Fire Me While I’m on Workers’ Compensation?
A: It is illegal for an employer to fire or terminate you because you’ve filed a workers’ compensation claim. It is also illegal for an employer to try and force you to resign because of a workers’ compensation claim.
However, this does not mean you can’t lose your job while you’re out on workers’ compensation. For example, your employer was planning on laying you off prior to your workplace injury. If you feel that you were fired because you filed workers’ compensation, it’s important to speak to an experienced workers’ comp attorney to learn your options.
Q: Can I Quit My Job While I’m on Workers’ Compensation?
A: The answer is a little complicated. If you quit your job prior to filing the claim, it can be difficult to prove the claim and showing that you are eligible for any benefits. However, if you quit the job after filing for workers’ compensation, it’s still possible to retain some of your workers’ compensation benefits but it’s still hard to prove the validity of your claim.
Q: What Benefits Can I Receive With Workers’ Compensation?
A: In Pennsylvania, workers’ comp benefits cover the following: wage replacement; medical expenses; and specific loss coverages, such as an amputation or hearing loss. If a family member dies following a workplace accident, death benefits are available.
More Questions? Speak to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s important to have an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer on your side to fight for what you deserve. The lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have been working hard for their clients for more than 60 years, and will ensure you are compensated for your losses. There is no cost upfront; we only charge a fee if we win your case. Call us today for a free consultation.