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Learn the Facts about Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help You?When you are out of work because of a workplace accident or injury, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you obtain the financial relief and support you need so that you do not have to worry about your family or your future. There are many steps involved in filing a successful workers’ comp claim and an experienced attorney can help you navigate the process to ensure the best possible outcome. Our knowledgeable team can help you:
- File an initial claim
- Determine the true cause of your accident
- Document your medical case to show whether you can return to work, and if so, when
- Handle calls from insurance company lawyers
- Review the types of settlements for which you might be eligible and determine what is in your best interest
- Handle third party claims
- Appeal a denial of benefits
- Help with modification of benefits
Why Choose Larry Pitt & Associates?There are many reasons to choose Larry Pitt & Associates. First and foremost, our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys have been protecting the rights of victims just like you in Philadelphia and the surrounding area for more than four decades. In addition, our experience helping people in a wide variety of industries gives us an advantage over other firms. The following are among the many clients we have been honored to help:
- Construction workers
- Flight attendants
- HAZMAT workers
- Home attendants
- Janitorial services
- Office workers
- Restaurant/Kitchen workers
- Service industry workers
- Truck drivers
- Union workers
If you have been hurt, we want you to know that no matter how dire things seem, there is a legal team with the experience and knowledge to help you. We know how to fight for your future, whether you were hurt in workplace accident or suffer a work-related illness. We have the skills, the resources, and the experience you need on your side.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation ClaimIn Philadelphia, workplace injury benefits are governed by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Under the Act, most workers are automatically covered; however, you may lose your benefits if you fail to follow the proper steps when you file a claim. First and foremost, if you are in an accident at work, seek medical attention, even if you think your injury is minor. Sometimes the extent of an injury is not apparent until later. Cuts may become infected and other injuries may lead to bigger health problems down the road. A medical professional must document the initial injury to ensure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. The following steps explain how to file a workers’ compensation claim: Step 1. Report your injury to your supervisor.
- Employers in Pennsylvania are required to post form LIBC-500, which should include the name, address, and phone number of their workers’ compensation insurance company, administrator, or internal contact person. Follow the instructions posted.
- If you report your injury within 21 days you may be eligible to receive retroactive benefits. You must report your injury within 120 days of the incident; if you fail to do so, you may lose your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.
- In addition to medical summaries provided by your doctor, it may be helpful to keep a personal journal of pain or other issues you experience as a result of the accident.
- Making the adjustment to everyday life can be a lot easier with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer by your side. This will allow you and your loved ones to focus on the healing process.
- Make sure to keep all appointments, including physical therapy and rehab sessions.
- Denied claims
- Navigating the appeals process
- Representing you during administrative hearings
Can I Choose My Doctors?The answer to the question “can I choose my doctors” depends upon your employer. Some employers allow you to choose your own doctor, However, in the state of Pennsylvania, employers have the right to create a list of designated healthcare providers that an employee must choose from if they file a workers’ compensation claim. When that happens, employers and employees must adhere to the following process:
- The employer must give the employee a written notice with the list of medical providers and an explanation of the employee’s rights and duties regarding the designated healthcare providers.
- The employee must sign the notice when they are hired and again if the list changes.
- The list must contain at least six healthcare providers within a reasonable geographic distance, and three of them must be physicians.
How Long Can You Collect Workers’ Comp?How long you can collect workers’ comp depends largely on the severity of your illness or injury. While every case is different, typically your condition will be classified as total or partial.
- Total disability status applies to workers who are unable to work. After you have collected benefits for 104 weeks, your employer can request a medical examination to determine if you meet a certain threshold of impairment. If it is determined that you will never be able to go back to work, you may be entitled to wage-loss benefits the rest of your life, or you may be offered a lump-sum settlement.
- Partial disability status entitles you to wage-loss benefits for up to 500 weeks if you can or do return to work at a lower-paying job according to work-related restrictions. The total number of weeks for which you collect benefits depends on the nature and severity of your injury.
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania?Workers’ compensation coverage is mandatory in Pennsylvania for nearly all workers. This includes full-time employees, part-time employees, and seasonal employees who are not contractors. The exceptions include employees who are covered under their respective federal workers’ compensation programs including railroad workers in interstate commerce, federal employees, and longshoremen/maritime workers. Domestic workers are optionally covered by workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania. Agricultural workers who work fewer than 30 days per year are not covered. There are also some religious exemptions. It is important to note that employees are typically covered, even if the accident was their fault. In addition to covering injuries that occur on the job, workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania also covers illnesses that result from exposure to hazardous substances, including asbestos and benzenes. Death benefits are usually paid to the dependent survivors if the death occurred from a work-related injury or illness. If the injury was caused by the negligence of a third party, such as a driver who caused a motor vehicle crash, a negligent construction site manager, or the manufacturer of a defective tool, the injured worker may be able to recover additional compensation by filing a third-party liability claim. During 2016, there were more than 159,000 workplace illness and injury cases reported to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The following list provides a breakdown of cases by industry:
- Educational and Health – 44,723
- Trade, Transportation, and Utilities – 41,323
- Manufacturing – 19.824
- Public Administration – 11,270
- Professional and Business Services – 11,190
- Leisure and Hospitality – 10,710
- Other – 19,621
Questions often arise concerning pre-existing conditions. If you suffered a workplace injury that exacerbated a pre-existing condition to the point where you are no longer able to work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
How Much Money Can You Collect from Workers’ Compensation?
In general, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides benefits for lost wages in an amount that is 66.66 percent (two-thirds) of your average weekly wage prior to your injury. However, this amount is subject to maximum and minimum limits.
The maximum is based on the statewide average weekly wage, which is recalculated every year by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. For 2020, the average weekly wage was calculated to be $1081.00.
For the year 2020, your workers’ compensation benefits would be as follows:
- $1,081.00 if your weekly wage exceeds $1621.50
- Two-thirds (66.66 percent) of your salary if your weekly wage is between $1,621.50 and $810.76
- $540.50 per week if your weekly wage is between $810.75 and $600.56
- 90 percent of your salary if your average weekly wage is $600.55 or below
For updates on the calculation of the Pennsylvania statewide weekly wage, visit www.dlli.pa.gov.
Can My Workers’ Compensation Benefits Change?
Unfortunately, there is always the risk that your workers’ compensation benefits change or be terminated entirely based on periodic input from medical or vocational experts.
In addition to reduced benefits, you also risk termination of benefits. If the judge determines that you are capable of earning the same wages you earned before your work injury, your benefits could be terminated entirely.
Any decrease in your benefits could spell financial disaster. If you are notified about a change in benefits, it is crucial to seek experienced legal representation. We can help ensure your rights are protected by collecting and presenting evidence to support your claim so you can continue to receive the benefits you need.
Types of Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation covers many types of injuries that happen as a result of workplace accidents. Some of the more common workplace accident injuries include the following:
- Broken bones
- Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds
- Electric shock
- Head injuries
- Knee injuries
- Ladder and scaffolding injuries
- Neck injuries
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Slip and fall injuries
- Strains and sprains from overexertion
Workers’ compensation also covers medical conditions that develop over time due to workplace hazards or conditions, including the following:
- Asbestos exposure
- Computer vision problems
- Lead exposure
- Mental stress
- Radiation exposure
- Toxic exposure
- Work-related heart attack or stroke
In Pennsylvania, the leading cause of injuries in 2016 was overexertion (lifting, pulling, and pushing). More than half of the injuries affected the upper and lower extremities. Although injuries to the head and neck are typically more severe, they were less common.
Underlying Causes of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
Millions of workers in the U.S. suffer occupational illness or injuries each year, despite rules and regulations governing workplace hazards and safety procedures. We have successfully represented hardworking employees in Pennsylvania who were harmed during the course of their job due to a wide variety of reasons, including the following:
- Defective or dangerous equipment – Every day, workers in construction, farming, and manufacturing must operate heavy machinery to complete their assigned duties. If this equipment is defective, it poses a significant risk to the safety of these workers.
- Unsafe working conditions – Employers are responsible for mitigating dangers such as walkway obstructions, slippery floors, and improper storage of hazardous substances.
- Failure to provide fall protection – Unprotected edges and open sides in residential construction pose grave hazards. For the fiscal year 2017, failure to provide fall protection was the number one most commonly cited violation according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Inadequate training – Many accidents happen because workers have not been properly trained on safety measures, including wearing protective gear, proper lifting, and correct handling of equipment and chemicals.
- Non-ergonomically designed workplace – A poorly designed workplace can trigger musculoskeletal disorders, which cost billions of dollars in workers’ compensation each year in the U.S.
What is the Difference Between Third Party Claims and Workers’ Compensation?
The difference between third-party claims and workers’ compensation has to do with the issue of who is at fault.
- Workers’ compensation is a form of no-fault insurance
- Third-party claims require proving that another entity (the third party) is at fault
Under workers’ compensation laws, the employee who is hurt or injured can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Workers who are harmed due to their own carelessness or negligence may still be entitled to workers’ compensation, provided they were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol or caused the accident due to their own acts of violence.
Third-party claims require the injured party to prove that someone other than the employer was either negligent or intentionally caused injury.
Another difference is that when you file a third-party (personal injury) claim, you may be able to recover additional compensation for pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation does not provide coverage for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship or other non-economic damages you may have suffered as a result of a work-related illness or accident.
The skilled attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. have successfully pursued many claims involving negligent third parties, including but not limited to the following:
- Construction site managers
- Government entities
- Manufacturers of defective equipment
- Manufacturers of toxic substances
- Negligent drivers
- Property owners
Our lawyers can capably handle your workers’ compensation claim and much more, including representing you in third-party claims if needed. Our firm has a reputation for making sure that our clients receive full monetary compensation for their work-related injuries or illnesses. We will fight on your behalf to ensure that your rights are respected and upheld, and that you receive the benefits you deserve after a workplace injury.
Our Skilled Philadelphia Workers’ Comp Attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Put the Rights of Pennsylvania Workers First
If you or a loved one is suffering from a work-related illness or injury, Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. will fight on your behalf. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Philadelphia workman’s compensation lawyer today, please call 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.
From our offices in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the areas of Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.