Common Questions about Workers’ Compensation
Experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer gives you the answers
At Larry Pitt & Associates, we have spent the last 35 years helping injured workers obtain the compensation and the help they need. We have found that our clients tend to ask a lot of the same questions, and that no matter what kind of injuries they have or what industries they work in, they have a lot of the same worries – about their families, about their rights and about the futures.
We want you to have access to that type of information whenever you need it, so we have created a list of common questions and answers for your perusal. If you have been hurt, you can make an appointment at any of our multiple offices in Bensalem, Lansdowne, Philadelphia or Reading to discuss the specific details of your case with Larry Pitt and our team.
- What is workers’ compensation insurance?
- I am out of work with no money. Can I hire an attorney?
- I was injured at work one year ago. Is there a time limit to which I can claim workers compensation?
- Do I still receive health benefits with a workers’ compensation claim?
- My company says I have to use their doctor? Is this true?
- I was injured while working for my employer but not at his location. Am I covered?
- I was injured on the job due to my own negligence. Am I covered?
- I am about to receive my pension. Do I need to contact a lawyer to determine what benefits I should receive?
- How much money am I entitled to?
- How long does workers’ compensation last?
- How will I get paid, and how often?
- Are workers’ compensation payments taxable?
- Do I need a workers’ compensation attorney??
- Am I entitled to any other benefits?
- What is the difference between total and partial disability?
- What is an impairment rating?
- I was exposed to harsh chemicals which damaged my lungs, are occupational diseases covered by workers’ compensation?
- What are workers’ compensation settlements?
When you have questions, we have answers
Larry Pitt & Associates has protected the rights of injured workers in Philadelphia and beyond for the last three decades. If you suffered a work place injury, or if your loved one was hurt on the job, we want to hear your story. Please call 888.PITT.LAW or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We are proud to serve workers in and around Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.
What is workers’ compensation insurance?
Workers’ compensation insurance is a form of disability insurance available to employees who are hurt or who develop an illness in the course of their job duties. These benefits are regulated by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. They are available to all Pennsylvania employees, except for contract workers and certain exempt groups.
I am out of work with no money. Can I hire an attorney?
Yes, you can. No money is required to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. Lawyers who represent injured workers are paid a percentage of the amount that they receive for their clients. This form of payment is known as a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer is not paid anything unless and until the client gets paid.
I was injured at work one year ago. Is there a time limit in which I can claim workers’ compensation?
Yes, there is a time limit in which you can claim workers’ compensation. The time limit is known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in workers’ compensation is three years.
Do I still receive health benefits with a workers’ compensation claim?
An injured worker who receives workers’ compensation benefits is entitled to receive medical treatment for the work-related injury. Other health insurance is not an issue involved in the field of workers’ compensation law and would depend on the terms of employment between the employer and the employee.
My company says I have to use their doctor. Is this true?
Maybe. While there are cases where an injured worker must use the company doctor for a period of 90 days there are a great many cases where this rule does not apply. This is one of the most important issues in a workers’ compensation case and the issue should be discussed with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
I was injured while working for my employer but not at his location. Am I covered?
Yes. As long as you were injured while in the course and scope of your employment with your employer, you are covered. This means you have to have been injured while actually performing a service for your employer.
I was injured on the job due to my own negligence. Am I covered?
Yes. Even if you were at fault for the injury, you are still covered. Workers’ compensation was the first “no-fault” legislation.
I am about to receive my pension. Do I need to contact a lawyer to determine what benefits I should receive?
Yes. In some cases there is a relationship between amounts received for workers’ compensation and amounts received for pensions. This issue should be discussed with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
How much money am I entitled to?
The amount of workers’ compensation benefits that an injured worker receives is based on that individual worker’s average weekly wage. Usually, the amount is two-thirds of the average weekly wage.
How long does workers’ compensation last?
Workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania doesn’t have a set deadline, so it’s not like we can say you’ll receive benefits for a certain amount of time. You may be able to collect benefits for a few weeks or a few years; in other cases, if you are permanently disabled, you may be able to collect compensation for the rest of your life. It all depends on your claim, whether you are temporarily, partially, totally or permanently disabled, or whether you accept a lump-sum settlement.
How will I get paid, and how often?
Generally speaking, the insurance company will mail or directly deposit your workers’ compensation checks into your account every two weeks. However, you can also use a Pennsylvania US bank ReliaCard; this allows your payments to be added directly to the card for your use, much like you would use a pre-paid credit card or gift card. In some cases, you may be eligible for weekly payments.
Are workers’ compensation benefits taxable?
No. You do not have to pay taxes on your workers’ compensation benefits.
Do I need a workers’ compensation attorney?
Yes. Though it is technically permissible for an injured worker to represent himself, it is a practical impossibility to do so. Only a lawyer can represent an injured worker at a workers’ compensation hearing. It will also require a lawyer to take the necessary deposition of the worker’s doctor and to cross-examine the employer’s doctor and other witnesses. Someone untrained in workers’ compensation law would not know the critical questions to ask all of which have legal significance. Virtually everyone who applies for workers’ compensation benefits must have a workers’ compensation lawyer to represent them.
Am I entitled to any other benefits?
Maybe. If the injury is very serious-one where you will not be able to work for a year or more, you may be eligible for additional benefits from Social Security. This is another issue which you should discuss with your workers’ compensation lawyer.
What is the difference between total and partial disability?
Temporary Total disability benefits are awarded to workers who are expected to recover from their injuries and eventually return to work. They are payable at the rate of two-thirds of the average weekly wage for as long as the injured worker is unable to return to the pre-injury employment. In cases of injuries that occurred after June 1996, the claimant can be examined after 104 weeks following the injury to determine if the employee is at least 50% impaired based on the standards of the American Medical Association. If the 50% threshold is not met, the employee’s status could change to partial disability.
Permanent Total Disability benefits are awarded to workers who will never be able to return to work, and they last forever. They are based on 2/3 of your salary; that amount will never change. However, after 104 weeks, you might be asked to revisit a doctor to ensure that you are still disabled. If your impairment rating is below 50%, your benefits could change or be discontinued.
Permanent Partial disability benefits are for employees who might be able to handle “light duty” work. They last for a maximum of 500 weeks. If an injured worker returns to a job which pays less than the pre-injury job within his current work restrictions he may receive partial disability benefits at the rate of two-thirds of the difference between the pre-injury wage and the current wage.
What is an impairment rating?
People who are injured, or who develop illnesses, related to their job duties will have to submit to a medical evaluation. During that evaluation, a doctor will determine your impairment rating – a tool to determine your whole body impairment. This rating is based out of 100%. The type of benefits you receive are depending on whether your rating is above or below 50%.
I was exposed to harsh chemicals which damaged my lungs; are occupational diseases covered by workers’ compensation?
Occupational diseases are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act if caused by or aggravated by employment. The disability must occur within 300 weeks of the last employment in an occupation where there was an exposure to the chemical. Certain other occupational diseases are specifically listed in the workers’ compensation act.
What are workers’ compensation settlements?
Since 1996, settlements of workers’ compensation cases have been openly allowed. The term used for a settlement is called a “C&R” which stands for a “Compromise and Release.” This is a very important issue in any workers’ compensation case. A settlement of a workers’ compensation case will permanently end the obligation of the insurance carrier to pay wage loss and usually also medical benefits. Sometimes an injured worker who is not represented by an attorney will be approached by the insurance company for a “lump sum.” Rarely does an injured worker know anything about the value of the case and the insurance company offer at first glance may seem fair. Everyone receiving workers’ compensation benefits who is considering a settlement should definitely speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer to analyze the true value of the case.