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Changes to Workers Compensation Laws Cut Treatment Benefits to Save Money

  • Jon Koutcher
  • 06/25/2013

There is a current trend by state legislatures to amend Workers Compensation laws to limit or even eliminate certain benefits. The goal is to alleviate the financial burden the Workers’ Compensation program puts on already financially-strapped states. Changes in the laws of some states, such as North Carolina, function to shorten the duration of benefits.   Other changes to Workers Compensation laws, such as those recently in New York, may eliminate the type of treatments an injured worker may receive or may shorten the duration of an approved treatment.

A recent change enacted by New York’s Workers Compensation Board limits coverage for therapeutic approaches that aim for “functional improvement.”  The policy change attempts to eliminate some treatment benefits for workers who suffer from chronic pain due to a workplace hazard or accident on the job.  According to one chiropractic professional, the Board made this change to prevent coverage for workers with chronic conditions by covering certain treatments for only two to three months, after which time it is assumed that they should have recovered.  The changes apply to new cases as well as existing cases.

Workers Compensation laws in all states, including those in Pennsylvania and Delaware, are subject to changes that trim the state’s budgetary deficits by chipping away at benefits protecting injured workers. Diligent Workers’ Compensation attorneys, such as those at Pearson Koutcher Law vigilantly watch for legislative changes that may affect their Pennsylvania and Delaware clients.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a program requiring employers to purchase insurance coverage to provide workplace compensation benefits to employees who become ill or injured on the job. Through this program, workers are provided such benefits as lost wages and medical care. In exchange, employers are protected from personal injury lawsuits by injured employees. While the federal government administers a workers’ compensation program for federal and certain other types of employees, each state has its own laws and programs for workers’ compensation, such as the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

What Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits Am I Entitled?

The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law provides for several types of workplace injury benefits for employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. Injured workers are entitled to the payment of reasonable and necessary medical treatment including surgical and medical services, medicine, supplies, hospital treatment and services, orthopedic appliances, prostheses and rehabilitation. Wage-loss benefits are available if it is determined that an injured worker is totally disabled and unable to work at all, or partially disabled and working in a position earning less than the worker’s pre-injury pay. An injured employee may be entitled to Specific Loss Benefits if the worker has lost the permanent use of all or part of his arm, leg, foot, finger, hand, toe, has experienced sight or hearing loss, or has suffered a serious and permanent disfigurement on his head, face or neck. If the work injury results in death, surviving dependents may be entitled to death benefits. Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

When Do I File A Work Comp Claim Petition?

Once the injured employee gives the employer notice of his work injuries, the employer or its insurance carrier must agree that the job injury or illness is work-related before injured worker benefits are paid. If the employer or insurance carrier denies the work injury claim, the injured worker must file a Claim Petition to be heard before a Workers’ Compensation law judge who decides which party will prevail.

What Do I Do After A Work Injury?

Immediately report your injury or work-related illness to your employer or supervisor. Tell them you were hurt on the job as well as the date and location of the injury.
Seek medical attention. You may need to see your employer’s doctor, which depends on if your employer maintains a panel physician list. Ask if your employer has such a list and, if they do, ask that it is provided to you immediately. If they do not have a list, you are free to treat with whichever doctor you choose. Lastly, contact the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyers, at Pearson Koutcher Law and speak with a lawyer with expertise in workplace injury law. Our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience helping injured workers throughout Pennsylvania and will help you fully understand your rights as an injured employee and assist you in seeking the full Workers’ Compensation benefits you deserve under the law. The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Pearson Koutcher Law will provide a free evaluation your claim and ensure that the most advantageous interpretation of the laws is applied to your facts.  Contact us today to discuss your Workers’ Compensation case.