The Basics of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation
By: Attorney Thomas Harper
Pennsylvania workers who get hurt on the job have protection in the form of certain benefits under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Every state in the country has its own unique workers’ compensation law, which are among the earliest examples of so-called “social legislation,” which are laws that are meant to promote the greater good by helping those in need. Pennsylvania enacted its Workers’ compensation law after recognizing that injured employees were often at a huge disadvantage compared to employers.
One of the most important aspects of Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act is that it is a “no fault” law. That means that the employer cannot refuse to provide workers’ compensation benefits because the employee was the one at fault in the accident that caused his or her injury. For example, consider an employee who gets hurt falling down stairs at work because they weren’t looking where they were walking. In that situation, the employer cannot refuse to pay workers’ compensation benefits simply because the employee’s negligence led to his injuries.
On the other side of the scales, injured employees give up their right to sue the employer in cases where the employer was at fault in the accident. For example, if an employee gets hurt at work slipping on water that the employer should have cleaned up, the employee cannot sue over the accident. Instead, employees are limited to wage loss benefits and payment of related medical bills under workers’ compensation. This is a very important part of the law, because it means that employers cannot be sued for things like pain and suffering damages.
When it comes to collecting workers’ compensation benefits, there are some important rules to keep in mind. First, an injured employee must be out of work a minimum of eight days before they can start collecting wage loss benefits. You must be out of work a minimum of 14 days in order to be entitled to retroactive wage loss payments dating back to your first day out of work. It’s also important to keep in mind that workers’ compensation pays a percentage of your wages rather than the same amount you were making before getting hurt.
Second, getting medical treatment for your work injury also has its own set of rules. One of the most important rules is that for the first 90 days after a work injury, employees must seek treatment from one of the employer’s designated health care providers, who are commonly known as “panel providers.” This rule means that, under normal circumstances, an injured employee can’t simply go to a doctor of their choice to get treated for their work injury. If an employee refuses to treat with a panel provider, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company can lawfully deny payment of the medical bills, which can add up to a huge cost.
The first few weeks after a work injury can be among the most important in any workers’ compensation case. Unfortunately those first weeks are also one of the most stressful times for the injured employee. While the injured employee simply wants to focus on getting better, the insurance company all too often tries to get you back to work as quickly as possible, even if you aren’t fully recovered. Having a skilled and local Workers’ Compensation attorney in your corner is one of the best ways to level the playing field so that you can focus on what is really important: recovering from your injury. If you’ve been hurt on the job, our team of highly skilled Workers’ Compensation attorneys is ready to even the odds and fight for you and the benefits you deserve. Contact us here.