Work injuries are a common occurrence, particularly within Pennsylvania’s health, transportation, and manufacturing industries. If you were injured at work in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, you should speak to a lawyer to understand your rights under PA worker’s compensation law or through a third party claim. But how what do you need to do in order to start receiving benefits, and how long can you expect your benefits to continue?
How Do You Get Worker’s Compensation in Pennsylvania?
The most common work injuries in Pennsylvania are sprains and strains, which are both examples of soft tissue injuries, like whiplash. Lacerations, bone fractures, burn injuries, crush injuries, and traumatic amputations are also common, especially among education and healthcare workers, who sustain more job-related injuries than workers in any other industry, including mining and construction.
Workplace injuries can occur for a variety of reasons, such as defective equipment, negligent supervision, improper delegation of tasks, failure to maintain records, operational errors, and inclement weather. In some cases, injuries are caused not by onsite conditions, but by car accidents during work travel.
However and for whatever reason a work accident occurs, injured employees generally do not have grounds to file a lawsuit against an employer, unless the injury was caused by a third party (such as the manufacturer of a defective power tool) or intentional misconduct (such as assault). That is because injured employees are already covered by worker’s compensation (WC). This is because most Pennsylvania businesses are required to carry WC insurance.
Employees should be aware that workers compensation benefits do not kick in automatically. In order to start receiving your benefits as soon as possible, always report a workplace injury to your supervisor right away, ideally within 21 days (or much sooner). Following a reported injury, employers are required to immediately report employee accidents to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
How Long Can an Injured Employee Continue to Receive Benefits?
Benefits for a workplace injury are payable from the date the injury occurs. However, it may take a few weeks for you to start receiving benefits due to processing delays.
The length of time your benefits will continue depends on the nature of your injuries and, in turn, the type of benefits you receive.
- Partial Disability — An employee is considered to be partially disabled if a doctor called an “impairment-rating physician” determines him or her to be 49% or less impaired. Partial disability benefits are paid to workers who “can, or do, return to work at a lower paying job,” and may last for up to 500 weeks (about nine and a half years).
- Total Disability — Total disability benefits are intended for employees who are 50% or more impaired by their injuries, as determined by an impairment-rating physician. Once the employee has received total disability benefits for a period of 104 weeks (about two years), the employer has the right to request a reassessment of the injuries. If the examination reveals that the injuries have improved to the point where the victim is 49% or less impaired, his or her status will be changed from total disability to partial disability.
Impairment ratings, partial disability determinations, and total disability determinations are governed by 34 Pa. Code § 123.105, which contains an important provision for those already receiving worker’s comp: “The employee may appeal the adjustment of benefit status to a workers’ compensation judge by filing a Petition for Review with the Department.”
In other words, if your status is changed from total to partial disability and you disagree with the determination, you have the right to challenge the adjustment and seek total disability status. A workplace accident attorney can help you with the Petition for Review and fight for the full benefits to which you are entitled. An attorney can also help fight for reconsideration if your worker’s compensation claim was denied, though compensation will be unavailable if the injury was deliberately self-inflicted or was caused by intoxication by drugs or alcohol.
Were You Injured at Work in Philadelphia?
If you, your spouse, or one of your family members were hurt at work Philadelphia, disability benefits may be available in the form of worker’s compensation or a third party personal injury claim. An attorney can help you prepare the strongest claim possible, and will vigorously protect your rights as an injured worker in the event that your claim is initially denied. To discuss your claim in a free and confidential legal consultation, call Philadelphia personal injury lawyer Brent Wieand at (888) 789-3161 today.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*