What is most important to know when I am hurt at work?
1. What is Workers’ Compensation?
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is the state law that protects people who are injured while working. The law provides weekly income for those that are losing income because of their injuries, payment of medical treatment for the work related injuries, and death benefits to surviving family members for individuals killed on the job. Additional benefits may be payable for those that have permanent scarring/disfigurements on their head, neck, and face or for those that have lost the use of a part of their body due to the work injury.
2. Who is covered by PA Workers’ Compensation?
The PA Workers’ Compensation Act covers almost all people who are injured while working including many individuals who may have been led to believe that they are independent contractors. The law also extends to people that are doing activities for work that may not be necessarily a part of their regular job.
The Law applies to all injuries or illnesses occurring in Pennsylvania regardless of where you were hired.
The illness or injury could have happened gradually or because of one incident. The law also applies to pre-existing conditions that were made worse because of work.
All employers are required to have Workers’ Compensation insurance. However, even if your employer does not have insurance, you will still likely be entitled to benefits that will be paid for by the PA Uninsured Guarantee Fund.
3. What should I do if I am injured while working?
The first and most important thing that everyone should do when injured at work is to notify your employer of the injury.
An employee injury is to be reported to the employer within 21 days generally. If the injury is not reported within 120 days from the date of injury no compensation will be allowed. In cases of work related diseases or problems that progress over time, the time period begins when the person has knowledge that the condition is work related.
It is always best to notify your employer immediately of an injury even when it appears to be minor. Injuries that appear to be minor may be much worse than expected and failure to notify your employer immediately can make your claim more difficult to establish.
4. What kind of notice is required?
Notifying your employer verbally is sufficient. You must notify your employer of what you have injured, how it happened, and that it was caused by work activities.
Whenever possible, you should report the injury in writing. You should ask to complete an Accident Report. This will help avoid situations where an employer tries to deny ever being advised of an injury.
5. If I report my injury, what happens next?
Within 21 days after you notify your employer that you are injured, your Employer’s insurance company must notify you whether your claim will be accepted or rejected.
The employer can accept your claim for medical benefits only or for both medical and wage loss benefits. The employer can also accept the claim temporarily (up to 90 days) or accept the claim for an open ended period.
If the employer accepts your claim in whole or in part, you may be required to treat with their physicians within the first 90 day period if they provide you with a posted list of doctors at your job.
Once the 90 day period expires, you can see your own doctors. Also, if the employer does not post a list of doctors or fails to respond to your claim then you can also see your own doctors as well.
6. What should I do when:
- The Employer/Insurance Company denied my claim
- The Employer/Insurance Company does not respond after I notified them of my injury
- My medical bills are not getting paid
- The company has not accepted all of my injuries
- I feel pressured to return to work before I am healed
- I feel pressured into signing documents provided by the insurance company
- A Petition is filed against me alleging that I am recovered or can work
- I want to resolve my case
- I have any questions regarding my rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act
In any case where your claim is contested, headed to Court, or you are unsure of whether you are being treated fairly, you should contact an Attorney that specializes in Pennsylvania Workers Compensation.
David A. Magaldi, Jr.,
Email Dave: David@pearsonkoutcherlaw.com