Philadelphia Workers' Compensation Attorney
Work injury is all too common. When someone is injured they need a PA workers compensation attorney. Some work injury, such as slips, falls, and accidents involving faulty equipment are a result of negligence on the part of the employer and a Philadelphia workers compensation attorney can help get the injured person compensated for their loss. The PA work injury lawyers at our Philadelphia office help those who have been injured make a recovery.
We all need to make a living, and we expect that our employers will make our places of work as safe and pleasant as possible. Other types of injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or the development of back and neck problems, come about because of the nature of the work and are not the employer’s fault. Employees who can no longer do their jobs because of a workplace injury worry how they are going to be able to support themselves and their families.
If you are injured while on the job, regardless of whether or not the injury was the result of your employer’s negligence, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Much like wages, these benefits are paid to employees who are out of work on a periodic (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) basis. These benefits are intended to compensate the worker for lost income and medical expenses incurred. Damages such as pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages that punish an employer for negligence, are not available in workers’ compensation claims. In exchange for receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you give up the right to sue your employer over your injury, even if it was your employer’s fault.
Most employees qualify for workers’ compensation, but some do not. For example, independent contractors and “casual employees” are not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Also, your employer could attempt to suspend your benefits, reduce your benefits, or demand that you undergo a physical examination at any time. You should hire an attorney as soon as possible to determine what your rights are to receive workers’ compensation, and so that you have someone on your side if your employer tries to take your benefits away in the future.
At The Levin Firm, we understand that representing workers’ compensation claimants requires particular types of skills and knowledge, as well as ability to understand your rights as an employee. We understand these issues, and work with our clients, their friends and family, as well as their doctors, psychologists, long-term care planners, and others – to ensure that our clients receive not only the finest legal representation, but also the finest support and medical care.
Workers’ compensation claims are complex, and require attorneys who understand how to navigate the system, and who are willing to explain the status of your case to you every step of the way. At The Levin Firm, we investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation FAQs
Were you injured in a workplace accident in Philadelphia? If so, then you may have the right to obtain compensation for your injuries through the state’s Workers’ Compensation program. Here are some of the questions our clients most frequently ask about workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is insurance purchased by an employer that provides benefits to employees who have suffered an injury or illness at the workplace. Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act is the law that defines how claims are made, what benefits are available, and who is eligible to receive compensation. Under this Act, all private employers in Pennsylvania must purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, whether the employees are full-time, part-time, or seasonal, even if the business is a non-profit corporation, is an unincorporated business, or has only one employee.
The Act contains just a few exceptions to this rule, including:
- Employees covered under other workers’ compensation-type programs, such as federal civilian employees, railroad workers, and longshoremen.
- Volunteer workers, provided they receive no compensation for their work, including monetary compensation as well as other forms of compensation such as products or services.
- Agricultural workers who work for less than 30 days or receive less than $1,200 from one employer per calendar year.
- Corporate executive officers.
- Employers who have filed for, and have obtained, an exception from workers’ compensation obligations due to religious beliefs.
Some of the benefits provided to injured employees through Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance include:
- Payment of lost wages, which may begin after seven calendar days of disability. If the worker still cannot return to work after 14 days, he or she will be retroactively paid for the first seven days. Lost wage benefits are approximately two-thirds of the wage the employee was earning before the injury occurred, up to the weekly maximum.
- Death benefits, provided to the family if the worker dies due to his or her injuries.
- Specific loss benefits, designed to recover the loss of certain body parts or the loss of function in those parts, including thumb, finger, hand, arm, toe, foot, leg; or the loss of hearing or vision as a result of the injury.
- Medical care, including reasonable surgical or medical services provided as a result of the injury, such as medicine, supplies, hospital treatment or services, orthopedic appliances, and prostheses.
Workers’ compensation insurance can be purchased by the employer from an insurer who is licensed to work in Pennsylvania or through the state-funded workers’ compensation insurance provider. Some companies may self-insure by providing proof of the ability to pay for the benefits that would be required if their employee became injured.
If my injury requires medical treatment, am I allowed to choose my own doctor?
In some circumstances, yes. If your employer does not have a list of at least six healthcare providers posted at your workplace, you may seek treatment from your own doctor. If the employer does provide a list of providers, you may choose one of the providers from the list.
You must seek injury-related medical treatment from the doctor you initially saw, or one of the providers on the list, for at least 90 days after the injury. If, during that period, you obtain treatment for your injury from a provider other than those listed, your employer’s insurance carrier may refuse to pay for the treatment.
Is workers’ compensation a federal program, or is it something provided by the state?
Neither, really. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that employers purchase or provide. However, the rules governing what a workers’ compensation insurance policy must cover are, for the most part, set forth in state law, and a state agency oversees workers’ compensation compliance and disputes.
Federal employees and those working in certain industries, however, such as railroad workers and longshoremen, are covered through different workers’ compensation insurance overseen by the federal government. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor oversees four workplace disability programs, including the Energy Employees’ Occupational Illness Compensation Program, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Program, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Program, and the Black Lung Benefits Program.
Are other insurance-type benefits available to me aside from workers’ compensation?
If your injury is serious and you can’t work for at least a year or more, you may have legal rights to receive certain types of disability benefits, such as Social Security Disability payments. Go here for more information about this type of payment. An experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney can help you evaluate your eligibility for any such benefits.
What do I need to do to obtain workers’ compensation benefits?
The first thing you need to do is to seek medical treatment if necessary for your injury or illness. Keep in mind that if your employer has a list of at least six providers for you to choose to seek initial treatment from, then you must seek care from one of the providers on the list. You must also notify your employer of your injury. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law requires you to give this notification within 120 days; failure to do so can result in you losing benefits. For occupational illness or disease, you have a time limit of 300 weeks after the last date of occupation in the occupation where you were exposed to the hazard, and you must file a petition for benefits no later than three years after the illness occurs.
Can I also file a lawsuit against my employer due to my injuries?
Generally, no. The workers’ compensation program is designed to provide a simpler process for collecting compensation for workplace injuries and illness than suing an employer.
Still, in some limited circumstances, a worker may have the right to sue an employer for a work-related injury or illness, such as:
- Cases where the employer has not purchased workers’ compensation insurance for its employees in spite of being required to do so.
- Cases where the employer intentionally injures an employee.
- Cases where a third-party caused the workplace injury or illness.
Speak with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer to determine your eligibility to take legal action against your employer.
Keep in mind, too, that even though you cannot sue your employer for a work-related injury or illness in most cases, you may have the right to take legal action against a third party (someone other than your employer or a co-worker) for causing you harm. A lawyer can help you evaluate your right to take this sort of action as well.
Will my employer fire me if I file a workers’ compensation claim?
It is against the law for an employer to fire an employee simply for filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against you in any other way for filing your claim, such as by threatening you, increasing surveillance of your activities on the job, giving you a negative job review, or giving negative job references. If you feel that this has happened, then you may have legal rights to sue for damages. Speak with a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney right away.
Does my employer decide when I am recovered enough to return to work?
No, that is a decision made by your doctor. You will be allowed to return to work when your doctor provides you a release to do so. Often, doctors release the employee to return to work before treatment ends, but with restrictions. Once you have provided the release to the employer, it then becomes the employer’s decision as to whether you can return to work.
My employer stated that I’m not actually an employee but an independent contractor. Do I still qualify for workers’ compensation?
With the growing popularity of rideshare services such as Lyft and Uber, in which the drivers who drive for the company are classified as independent contractors, there is increasing attention being given to the misclassification of workers here in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. In addition to depriving workers of their right to obtain benefits through the workers’ compensation program, misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor also interferes with a worker’s ability to obtain other benefits, such as unemployment insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, and paid vacations.
If you feel that you were wrongly classified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, speak with an attorney right away. You can also file a worker misclassification survey on this page or call 1-866-403-6163 (option 3), weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We encourage you, however, to speak with an attorney first. We can help you determine if you need to file that paperwork and if so we can help you do it.
How long may I receive wage-loss benefits?
Whether or not your insurer approves your claim, you may be granted temporary compensation benefits for up to 90 days. These benefits may stop at any time during the 90 days if your employer’s insurer chooses to deny your claim. Once you have been approved to receive compensation, your wage-loss benefits may continue until your employer and insurer have evidence to show that you are back to work at wages that are equal to or more than what you were making before the injury. Benefits may also stop if a judge determines that you are not eligible to receive them. Additionally, if you receive partial disability benefits, those benefits will expire after 500 weeks.
My benefits were terminated and I would like them reinstated. How do I do this?
If your employer’s insurer terminated your benefits, you may file a petition with the Office of Adjudication for a reinstatement hearing within three years after the date of your last workers’ compensation check. The judge overseeing your case will generally require mediation with all interested parties unless there is reason to believe that mediation efforts would be futile. Decisions of the Office of Adjudication can be appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board as well as the Commonwealth Court.
Do not attempt to navigate the reinstatement process alone. Speak with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney right away.
My boss told me that he doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. What should I do?
If your employer was required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for you, you have the right to report your employer and to seek compensation from him or her through a personal injury lawsuit. Speak with an attorney.
Do I have to pay a deductible for medical treatment through workers’ compensation?
No. Your employer and your employer’s insurer are responsible for paying the full amount of benefits for reasonable medical treatments that are owed to you. However, the insurer may decline to make payments if you failed to seek treatment from the employer’s list of providers for at least 90 days after the injury or your treatments were deemed to be unnecessary.
My son hurt himself at school and I missed work to take him to doctor’s appointments. Does this injury qualify for workers’ compensation?
No, the injuries of your family members are not covered through workers’ compensation, even if you miss work to obtain treatment and provide care. An employer’s responsibility to provide workers’ compensation insurance only extends to employees who have become injured during the normal scope of their employment or have acquired a workplace illness due to exposure to a toxic substance while at work.
I am 17 years old and just suffered an injury at my part-time job. Am I eligible to receive benefits even though I am not of age?
Yes, the workers’ compensation law requires that employers provide this coverage for all employees, regardless of how old they are or how many hours they work.
I am a sole proprietor with no employees. Am I required to have workers’ compensation insurance?
No, sole proprietors are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, if you pay anyone as an independent contractor who performs work-related services for your business, you should check to ensure that the worker is properly classified.
Why would workers’ comp deny my claim?
There are several reasons why the insurer might choose to deny your claim, including:
- The belief that your injury was self-inflicted or was caused by illegal behavior, such as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The belief that your injury was pre-existing or that it didn’t happen at work, or that the illness you acquired was not occupational.
- If you fail to notify your employer of your injury or illness within the required time period.
- There were no witnesses to your injury who can verify that it occurred at work.
If you have received a claim denial, speak with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney right away to discuss your rights.
Do I need an attorney to file a workers’ compensation claim?
While the law does not require you to have an attorney, it helps, particularly if you sustained a complicated injury or you know your employer intends to dispute your claim. Contact our experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys at the Levin Firm for a free consultation today.
When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member or friend who has been injured at work, contact The Levin Firm, who represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case.