Too often, a nurse or nursing assistant is hurt on the job, frequently to the back, when lifting or transferring a patient in bed, helping a patient get in or out of a wheelchair, or doing some other aspect of your job. If this happens, whether you injure your back, neck, shoulder, or any other part of your body, promptly report it to your supervisor, even if you think the injury is minor, in person, by phone or by text or email. If in person or phone call, it is best to follow up with a text or email so you have a record of reporting your injury to your supervisor. You will likely be asked to complete an incident report in which you describe the injury. If you don’t report the injury initially, but wait a period of time until the injury gets worse, the insurance company for your employer may be skeptical because you didn’t report the injury right away. Plus, you only have 120 days to report a work injury per Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law. Don’t wait. Then, you will most likely be sent to see your employer’s doctor.
From the time your employer is notified of your work injury, the insurance company has 21 days to make a decision on your claim: accept it and start paying you weekly Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits for your lost wages, as well as pay your medical bills; accept just the medical portion of your claim in which they pay your medical bills but don’t pay you money for your lost wages, or deny your claim completely and not pay you wage loss or medical benefits. They can also accept your claim on a temporary basis in which they make a preliminary determination to accept your claim (just wage loss or wage loss and medical) but then they have up to 90 days to change their minds or agree with their initial decision on your claim. These decisions may mostly be based on your initial report of injury and visit to your employer’s doctor after you reported your injury. So, remember to just tell the truth about the work accident and your injuries that resulted from that accident to give yourself the opportunity to receive the best possible outcome.
In the weeks and months after your work injury, you may be released to return to modified-duty-work — less physical work than your regular nursing or nursing assistant position. For example, you may be released to your job, part-time, with no lifting or transferring of patients. If your claim has been accepted and you are receiving weekly wage loss benefits, and you return to this position, your benefits will be reduced to two-thirds of the difference between how much you were earning before your injury as a nurse or nursing assistant, and your wages in the part-time position. So, if you made $600 a week before your accident and were reduced to $300 a week working modified-duty, PA workers’ compensation would pay you $200 a week.
If the release is from a doctor who is on your employer’s panel of medical providers, and you decline to return to the job because you believe even part-time work with restrictions is beyond your physical capabilities, the insurance company is likely to take the position that your Workers’ Comp. benefits should be reduced because you have recovered from your injury to the extent that you are able to perform some level of work.
Nurses and nursing assistants, here’s what we’re telling you in a nutshell: It’s bad enough if you injure yourself at work, and your frustration level will mount if the insurance company for your employer denies your claim, completely or partly, or tries to send you back to work before you have had enough time to receive adequate treatment for your injury. Pearson Koutcher Law, who specializes in PA workers’ compensation law, is here to help you get the benefits that you deserve and reduce your anxiety level so you can focus on recovering and getting back to work full time. Please call us — one of our experienced PA workers compensation lawyers will meet with you at no cost without delay, and take any necessary legal action on your behalf.