The Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation Act provides compensation to individuals who suffer injuries in the course and scope of their employment.
Monetary benefits are payable if the injured worker (the claimant) can establish disability – an inability to work as a result of the work injury. Benefits are also payable if the claimant can establish that he or she suffered an occupational disease that results from employment. The amount of disability benefits is generally calculated as two-thirds of the pre-injury earnings. In addition, an employer will be held liable for medical bills which are reasonable, necessary and related to the work injury or occupational disease.
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When an injured claimant returns to work at the same or lesser earnings, his or her compensation is correspondingly reduced.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation benefits are limited to employees, as distinguished from independent contractors. Simply put, when a claimant incurs a job related injury the employer, through its insurance company, is obligated to pay weekly wage loss benefits and medical benefits until the claimant fully recovers and is able to return to work with no loss of earnings.
While this may appear to be a simple process, complications and disputes often develop with respect to whether the claimant was in the course and scope of his employment when the injury occurred, whether the disability is a result of non-work related factors, and whether there is a true disability. If you have any questions regarding a work related injury, a DLP lawyer is available to answer your questions and assist your needs. At Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP we have experienced and aggressive attorneys and staff to help handle your workers’ compensation case. If you or someone you know was injured at work, please contact DLP for a free initial consultation.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I’m entitled to workers’ compensation?
In Pennsylvania, the right to compensation is established if you suffer an injury that results in disability or death while in the course and scope of employment.
Is there a time limit to tell my employer about my work-related injury?
Notice of the injury must be given within 120 days of the injury date. In certain circumstances, the time for giving notice of an injury does nit begin to run until the employee knows, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should know, of the existence of the injury and its possible relationship to the employment.
Is there a statute of limitations in filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Yes. In Pennsylvania, the law requires the filing of a Claim Petition within three years of the date of injury.
What is a Claim Petition?
A Claim Petition is the filing used to establish that an employee is entitled to benefits for a disputed work injury.
If I’m receiving workers’ compensation benefits, can my employer file any petitions against me?
Yes. Employers have the option to file several types of petitions to reduce or stop payment of compensation benefits. These include a Termination Petition (which asserts that an injured worker is fully recovered from a work injury, and is no longer entitled to any workers’ compensation benefits from that injury), a Suspension Petition (which asserts that an injured worker is not fully recovered, but has either returned to work or is capable of returning to available work without a loss of earnings), a Modification Petition ( which asserts that an injured worker is not fully recovered, but has either returned to work or is capable of returning to available work with some loss of earnings) as well as a Review Petition (which seeks to correct errors in compensation documents, such as the description of injury or average weekly wage.
If I’m injured at work, where can I get treatment?
If the employer posts a list of designated medical providers (a panel list), the injured worker is required to seek treatment with one of the providers on that list for a period of 90 days.
How is my rate of workers’ compensation calculated?
Generally, the weekly compensation rate for total disability is 2/3 (or 66.66%) of average of the injured workers’ pre-injury earnings, also known as the average weekly wage.
Do I have to pay a co-payment for work-related medical treatment?
No. Under the Pa. Workers’ Compensation Act, the injured worker is not responsible for payment for treatment of an acknowledged work injury.
Can I collect unemployment compensation and workers’ compensation at the same time?
The receipt of unemployment compensation benefits does not bar the receipt of workers’ compensation benefits. However, the Pa. Workers’ Compensation Act permits the employer to take a dollar-for-dollar offset for unemployment compensation paid the injured worker. In other words, the workers’ compensation payment amount will be reduced by the amount of unemployment compensation benefits received by the injured worker.
In addition to my workers’ compensation claim, can I sue my employer for causing my work injury?
No. In such situations, the workers’ compensation claim is the exclusive remedy available to an injured worker. However, there are two exceptions. First, if you suffer an injury or illness that was caused by a defective product or device you may have a civil claim against the manufacturer of that product or device. Second, if your injury resulted from an assault by a co-worker AND the assault was the result of something personal between you and the co-worker, you may be able to file a civil suit against your co-worker.
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