Philadelphia Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Getting workers’ compensation can be a complicated process. If you’ve suffered a work-related injury in Philadelphia, you need a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer who knows the ins and outs of Philadelphia’s workers’ compensation agencies to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
For workers already dealing with an injury, navigating a system full of special terms and so many different time limits can feel overwhelming. Pennsylvania provides a wide range of workers’ compensation benefits.
The experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Meirowitz & Wasserberg will work with you to ensure you get fair benefits and can also help if your workers’ compensation claim has been denied.
Workers’ compensation serves as your health insurance for work-related injuries. Workers’ compensation covers many different medical services and treatments, including the following:
- Doctor’s office appointments and appointments with other medical providers and chiropractors
- Surgeries and medical procedures
- Hospital stays
- Prescription medication
- Orthopedic devices
Medical expenses are paid for as long as you still need medical care for your injury.
Lost Wages and Disability Benefits
If you are disabled from a work-related injury, you can get disability benefits. The amount and kind of benefits you receive will depend on your disability and whether it is temporary or permanent, and whether you cannot return to work at all (total disability) or must return to a lower-paying position because of your disability (partial disability).
Temporary Total Disability
A temporary disability means your condition will likely improve over time. If you miss work due to a temporary disability, you can get benefits to compensate for your lost wages. Once you have missed seven days of work, you will be paid for the time you miss after that. You will receive about two-thirds of your wages, up to a maximum set by law.
To be entitled to benefits for a temporary total disability, either your disability must prevent you from working in any capacity, or your employer must not have any light-duty work available that fits the work restrictions set by your doctor.
Permanent Total Disability
A permanent total disability is unlikely to improve and means you cannot return to work in any capacity. Once a doctor determines your condition is unlikely to improve, you have reached maximum medical improvement.
If you still can’t return to work, you can get permanent total disability. Permanent total disability is paid at the same rate as temporary disability and does not end unless the worker agrees to a lump sum settlement from the employer.
Permanent Partial Disability
If you return to work but can only perform lower-paying duties than what you were able to do before your disability, you are entitled to partial disability benefits. How much you receive will be determined using the following steps:
- Start with your average weekly wage from before the injury.
- Subtract your lower average weekly wage after you return to work.
- Take two-thirds of the difference.
If you lose the use of a limb (either because it no longer functions or because it was amputated), you are entitled to specific loss benefits. Pennsylvania law sets established dollar amounts for benefits for the loss of different body parts.
Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Claim Process
A workers’ compensation claim begins when an injured worker reports the injury to the employer. From there, the process can take many directions depending on whether the claim is allowed or denied and if the employee appeals the decision.
The initial stages of the workers’ compensation claim process usually go as follows:
- Employee reports the injury. Must be within 21 days of an injury and 120 days of a work-related disease.
- Employer reports the injury. The employer has to report the injury to two entities: their insurer and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
- Employer pays or denies the claim. The employer has 21 days from when the employee reports the injury to either begin payments or deny the claim. Just because an employer initially starts paying, however, does not mean that your claim will ultimately be allowed. An employer can start making temporary payments while they investigate your claim for up to 90 days after you reported your injury. Once the 90 days are up, the employer must either decide to allow or deny the claim.
If the employer denies the claim and payment of benefits, the employee can file a claim petition, which begins a process within the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
- The injured worker has three years from the date of injury to file a claim petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
- A workers’ compensation judge (an administrative judge who only hears workers’ compensation claims and not a judge in court) is assigned, and a hearing is held.
- The workers’ compensation judge schedules the case for mediation, and the parties discuss settlement.
- If no settlement is reached, the workers’ compensation judge issues a written decision allowing or denying the claim.
- If you disagree with the decision, you have 20 days to appeal it to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board then issues a written decision affirming or reversing the workers’ compensation judge’s decision.
- If you disagree with that decision, you have 30 days to appeal it to a commonwealth court.
- You can then try to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s decision by filing a Petition for the Allowance of an Appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court does not have to accept your appeal. Usually, the Supreme Court only accepts workers’ compensation appeals if they involve important issues on which the court has not ruled before.
Even if your employer accepts liability for your injury, you may still end up disputing certain aspects of your workers’ comp benefits. Here are some examples of when you could find yourself fighting with your employer over your workers’ compensation benefits even if your employer initially allows it:
- Your employer does not approve medical treatment, claiming it is not reasonable or necessary for your medical condition.
- Your employer rejects a request for permanent total disability.
- Your employer rejects a request for permanent partial disability.
How Our Philadelphia Workers' Compensation Lawyers Can Help
The attorneys at Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP have extensive experience fighting for those who have been injured, from clients who have suffered personal injuries in non-work settings to people who work in high-risk environments, such as victims of construction accidents.
We understand that taking care of your physical and mental health should be your priority after an injury in the workplace, so we make your financial well-being our priority. Our attorneys have successfully represented injured workers, demanding the compensation they needed to recover from preventable workplace injuries.
Contact our Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys for a free consultation today if you were hurt in a work-related accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I recover workers’ compensation if I am in a union?
You can still get workers’ compensation benefits if you are in a union. Remember, however, that taking time off work due to a work injury may affect other benefits under your union contract, but that depends on your specific union contract.
Do I have to use my company’s doctor?
You do not have to use your company’s doctor. You have the right to choose your treating physician. Your employer or its insurer has the right to request that you undergo an independent medical examination by the doctor of their choosing. Still, this doctor will only examine you and not provide any treatment.
How long does it take to settle a workers’ compensation case in Pennsylvania?
How long it takes to settle a workers’ compensation case depends on several factors. Most commonly, settlements happen during mediation or when an employee has reached maximum medical improvement.
Is workers' compensation taxable in Pennsylvania?
Not usually. Workers’ compensation benefits are not taxable unless your employer allows you to receive your full salary in exchange for turning over your workers’ compensation benefits to your employer.
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