The Law Offices of Thomas More Holland share the importance of knowing the rights of injured workers.
How well do you know the rights of injured workers in Pennsylvania? If your answer is “not very well,” you are not alone. Most individuals are almost entirely unaware of their rights if they are injured on the job. At best, they may have a vague notion about workers’ compensation being available, without knowing any of the details. And for some individuals, this deficit in knowledge may be fine. They may go their whole career without injury to themselves or a loved one occurring on the job. However, for those who have been injured on the job, knowing and understanding the rights of injured workers quickly becomes a vital necessity.
By August of 2014, 3,364 workers’ compensation applications had been filed in Pennsylvania alone, and by that same month, only about 33% of those claims had been accepted. The workers who filed these claims may have found themselves urgently scrambling to navigate the complicated laws related to workers compensation. If you have found yourself in the same situation, or want to take preemptive action, this blog can help you fill in some of the gaps in your understanding and prepare you to take the right steps toward receiving the compensation you deserve. https://www.edgarsnyder.com/workers-compensation/information/workers-compensation-statistics.html (@edgarsnyder)
What Are The Rights of Injured Workers?
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, workers’ comp benefits pay wage losses and medical losses when an employee is injured at work or suffers from a job-related occupational disease. As long as the injury is job related, it is covered and the employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Below is a basic outline of the facts you will need to know if you were injured on the job.
What types of situations are considered “work”? The rights of injured workers are not limited only to injuries that occur on your standard job site. Additionally, if you were injured on a work-related errand or at a required business social function, you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits.
What types of injuries are compensated? Every type of physical injury that occurs on the job is covered by workers’ comp. This encompasses both severe injuries that happen in an instance of trauma, and others which develop over the years through repetitive trauma, such as carpal tunnel. Additionally, if you have had an injury or disease made worse as a result of your job, you may receive compensation as well. Common injuries that are covered include:
- Neck and back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Arm, Leg, and Knee Injuries
- Facial injuries
- Burns or lacerations
- Broken bones and fractures
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Pinched Nerves
- Herniated Disks
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Head trauma
- Electric shocks
- Crushed bones
- Heart attacks
What benefits am I entitled to? Under the PA Workers’ Compensation Act, you are entitled to receive the following to the degree that is reasonable and necessary:
- Medical treatments
- Wage loss benefits
- Benefits for injuries that cause permanent disabilities
- Death benefits and burial expenses in certain cases of death on the job
Typically, an injured worker will receive ⅔ of their average wages, up to a certain amount.
Can I get an attorney? You have the right to an attorney to help you navigate the complicated details of a workers’ compensation case. In fact, working with a lawyer can be one of the most important steps that you take to work towards receiving the benefits and compensation you are owed. Your attorney can explain in further detail the rights of injured workers and how they play out in your unique situation. Additionally, your lawyer can provide the passionate representation you need when it comes to getting results from employers and their insurance companies.
Can I sue my employer? If you sustain a work related injury, you are not typically permitted to file a lawsuit against your employer. However, if you believe that you do deserve workers’ compensation and your employer or your employer’s insurance company is not acting in compliance with the law and has denied your claim, you should file a Claim Petition. Additionally, when injuries are caused by negligence by someone other than your employer, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that individual or company.
Why Do I Have To Understand These Rules? Isn’t That What Professionals Are For?
While it is true that those handling your workers’ compensation case at your workplace should know the overall rights and rules of workers’ comp, it is still vitally important that you have a general understanding of what those mean for your own situation. Below are three of the most important examples of understanding the rights of injured workers.
- You Need To Know If You Have A Case. Possibly the most important reason to understand the rights and rules related to workers’ compensation even if you have not been injured is so that you are able to recognize a case if it should occur. Many people simply suffer from a work-related injury without even realizing that they could be receiving compensation for the treatment they require or for lost wages and work time. Know what injuries, as well as occupational disease, are covered by this legislation in order to take action quickly.
- You Need to Move Quickly. Urgency is of the utmost importance when it comes to filing a notice workers’ compensation injury. You should report any injury or work-related illness to your supervisor or employer immediately. That report needs to include both the date and place you were injured, as well as what happened. If you do not follow this procedure, your benefits may be delayed or even denied. Strict time allowances are outlined as follows:
- Unless your employer knows about your injury or you give him or her notice within 21 days of the injury, no compensation is due until the notice is given
- For compensation to be allowed at all, the notice must be given no later than 120 days after the injury
- If your request for workers’ comp benefits is denied by your employer, you have three years from the date of the injury to file a petition
- In the case of an occupational disease, injury or disability must occur with 300 weeks of your last employment where you were exposed to a hazard, and a petition must be filed within 3 years of the injury or disability
As you can see, time is of the essence when it comes to workers’ compensation, so it is imperative that you understand your rights beforehand so you can quickly begin the process of giving notice and filing necessary documentation in order to receive the benefits you deserve.
- You Need to Get The Right Help. In many cases, especially if your claim has been denied or delayed, you will want to find an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help you navigate the process before you, explain the rights and rules that apply, and represent your case when necessary. Having a general understanding of your rights and how they may have been violated will help you to explain your situation during the initial consultation with any attorneys you interview.
Lump Sum Settlement: Tom Holland is experience in evaluating lump sum offers. Early lump sum settlement offers may be encouraging, but Tom Holland will be able to help not leave anything on the table. If the disability continues to be treated without a definitive diagnosis and/or prognosis, prompt settlement may not be prudent. When and if to settle is your decision to make, but BEWARE. What’s the hurry? Please be cautious of an early settlement offer from a claims adjustor who suggests you do not need a lawyer.
Have you been injured at work? What questions do you have about the rights of injured workers? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!