How Does Workers’ Compensation Protect Employees in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act covers nearly all Pennsylvania seasonal, part-time, and full-time employees. It is a no-fault system that entitles injured workers to benefits, such as medical coverage and income replacement for injuries and illnesses suffered on the job. Pennsylvania employers are required by law to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance for their employees. Regardless of fault, Workers’ Compensation will generally cover an injured worker’s medical costs and provide death benefits to the families of workers who suffer a fatal work injury. In return, employees may not sue their employer for work-related injuries.
The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. will help workers and their families navigate the Workers’ Compensation process if there is ever a problem with coverage or reporting injuries. We understand that an injury, illness, or even a death in the family can be devastating. Our legal team will litigate the case, ensure that coverage is provided, and hold insurance companies or third parties liable when necessary.
Champions of the Labor Movement
Since 1945, Freedman & Lorry, P.C. has been fighting for the rights of workers and has a longstanding reputation as an innovative champion of labor. Our firm has extensive experience in both labor relations and compensation cases for the sick and injured, and our dedication to workers has led to successful cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as other federal and state appellate courts. Freedman & Lorry, P.C. is also responsible for Seas Shipping Co. v. Sieracki, 328 U.S. 35, which changed maritime law to benefit merchant seamen and longshoremen.
Because of our commitment to Workers’ Compensation law, we can handle a case no matter the industry or the circumstances. We are willing to work with families who lost loved ones to overseas jobs, employees who have been told they cannot file for compensation, and workers who are told they do not have coverage. We understand how to fight insurance companies for compensation, and we build convincing cases that show our clients should be covered when the insurance company does not relent.
Employers and insurance companies may go so far as claiming that workers were intoxicated, not performing their job duties, or acting inappropriately on the work site. Because we are champions of the labor movement, we believe our clients when they come to us with stories of denied claims. We will frame a case that shows clear evidence our clients should be covered, and we will continue fighting until that worker can fully recover and/or move on with their life.
Common Work Accidents
Work accidents can take on many forms, ranging from benign to severe. Workers should always seek medical attention when they have been hurt and report these accidents immediately. Waiting to report injuries or receive medical assistance can delay and possibly invalidate a case. Common accidents on the job include:
- Slip and falls: Employees should have safety harnesses if they are working on tall scaffolding or structures, wear non-slip shoes or boots, and stay away from wet floors. Additionally, all wet floors or slippery areas should be clearly labeled to prevent injuries.
- Electrical accidents: These can occur when power sources, tools, or machines are not grounded properly, or power cables are frayed.
- Machine or power tool accidents: These devices should be used only by trained professionals. Because one-fifth of all fatalities occur in the construction industry, it is important for workers and businesses to take special care around power tools and machinery.
- Being struck by an object: It is reported that 11 percent of all work injuries involve workers who are struck by objects. Workers should remain aware of their surroundings and do their best to stay out of harm’s way.
- Vehicle accidents: These accidents occur when employees are driving or working near the road. Workers who are driving could be hurt in an accident and those on the worksite could be struck by a vehicle. Only licensed or certified operators should handle work vehicles and employees who are driving as part of their job duties should take basic safety precautions on the road.
- Overexertion: This common issue leads to a number of injuries, including broken bones, muscle strains, tears, and even head injuries or injuries caused by objects striking the employee. Employees should lift objects in groups to avoid injuries.
Common Work Injuries
Workers need to be aware of common injuries that might occur. A knowledge of both these injuries and how to prevent work accidents can keep everyone safe. In some cases, the worker may not realize they are hurt because the injury did not seem significant at the time. Common injuries include the following:
- Cuts and lacerations: These injuries occur often on worksites, but that does not mean they should be ignored. Many cuts and lacerations are much deeper than employees realize. Reporting the injury and seeking treatment are more important than getting back to work.
- Burns: These injuries should be treated by a doctor because they can be severe. The pain and discomfort of burns can make it difficult to continue employment. Additionally, workers who suffered from burns may have difficulty focusing, sleeping, or even enjoying their life because of the constant pain a burn can cause.
- Broken bones: These injuries should be set and treated by a medical professional. Employees should always report these injuries and seek a doctor immediately.
- Head trauma: This must be taken seriously on a job site. Most people who are suffering from a head injury will experience headaches, blurry vision, or even memory issues. Head injuries are more common than workers might think and involve hitting the windshield in a car accident or the immense whiplash due to an accident in a large construction machine.
- Electrocutions: These injuries are not uncommon, and workers should try to avoid standing in water, check the circuits they are using for power, and check power tool cables frequently. Electrocution can cause workers to lose consciousness, fall off scaffolding, or result in cardiac damage. Additionally, a tool could injure the worker as they fall.
A Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help workers recover the compensation they deserve or ensure that coverage is provided.
Can an Injured Worker Sue Their Employer?
An employee cannot sue an employer who offers Workers’ Compensation. The only instance in which a company can be required to pay for a claim is if they did not provide Workers’ Compensation insurance. This is a violation of the law and the company will be cited. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer will determine that the company did not have Workers’ Compensation coverage at the time of the injury, and they will be asked to pay for the worker’s injuries. In some cases, a worker may be injured due to a third-party’s negligence. A separate claim can be made that the other party’s reckless or malicious behavior caused the accident. Although the employer is shielded from litigation, a third party is not.
How Should Injured Workers Report Injuries?
There must be a chain of command for reporting injuries. Companies should explain to their employees how to report injuries. Managers must understand how to file those reports or reach out to the insurance department or carrier, and workers must be sent to an approved doctor as soon as possible. Workers cannot be penalized for reporting injuries and should not experience a hostile work environment if an injury is reported. Our legal team will determine if the employer or insurance company has blocked workers from reporting injuries, and we will also bring a separate complaint against the business if retaliation occurs.
What If Workers Cannot Report Their Injuries?
We can help employees who believe they do not have the freedom to report their injuries. A letter or notice from a lawyer’s office will grab the attention of a business or insurance company, and we will ensure that the claim is paid properly. In many instances, that is all that is needed to close a case. Workers who have been told they cannot report their injuries should reach out to us as soon as possible, and workers who have been told they are not eligible for coverage should have a Workers’ Compensation lawyer review their case. Companies that knowingly withhold coverage should be held accountable for their actions. We will ensure that our clients are covered and hold the insurance company accountable if they refuse to process the claim.
How Will Workers be Compensated?
Workers will be compensated with the coverage that they deserve. If the insurance company denied a claim, they could be held liable for any further illnesses or injuries that occur. When a worker is injured, we will request payment for the following:
Present and future medical expenses and treatment: We will work with our clients to determine how they were injured and if they are eligible for benefits. We will also calculate the rate of pay that the worker should receive because they were injured and determine how much medical care will cost. Because the system pays for current and future medical care, we will present all evidence necessary when filing a claim.
Lost wages: We may also request additional compensation if the employee lost their earning potential due to the nature of their injury. Employees who cannot return to work are entitled to compensation for lost wages.
Death benefits: If a worker suffered fatal injuries, surviving dependents are entitled to a portion of that worker’s weekly wages. Additionally, a representative can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased to receive compensation for grief and loss of companionship.
Is There a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations in Pennsylvania to file a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits that have not been paid is three years. Workers have 21 days to report their injuries to their employer. When reported within the 21-day timeframe, the employee will receive retroactive benefits back to the date of the injury.
The worker has 120 days to report the injury so that they can receive benefits starting on the day they make the report. Any case that goes beyond the three-year mark cannot be heard by the court. When the employer or insurance company has prevented the employee from filing a claim, we will present evidence to the court showing that our client could not file a claim. Although we cannot ethically guarantee a favorable result, we will do everything that we can to have the case heard.
Does Workers’ Compensation Pay Death Benefits?
Workers’ Compensation coverage in Pennsylvania provides death benefits to the surviving spouse until they remarry. At that time, the spouse may receive a lump-sum payment for another two years. Death benefits for Workers’ Compensation can be just as complicated as injury benefits. If the company tells a worker’s family that they are ineligible, the family should reach out to us as soon as possible.
In many cases, the family may not realize that death benefits are available. We can help file a claim when the family does not know what to do. Death benefits may also be requested from a trust that was established by a bankrupt or defunct company. The most common trust is one set up to handle asbestos and mesothelioma claims.
Why Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
A work accident can derail anyone’s daily routine and leave them incapacitated and/or unable to return to the job they once held. Workers may need physical therapy and ongoing treatment to recover fully. Although employees do not need a lawyer to file a Workers’ Compensation claim for their injuries, using an experienced lawyer who knows the process and all its nuances can allow victims and families to concentrate on their recovery instead of worrying about legal deadlines and technicalities.
Unfortunately, employers and their insurance companies will not always recognize a work injury or occupational illness claim and may try to deny injured employees the benefits they are entitled to by law. That is when aggressive and experienced representation can make a difference. By building an evidence-based, convincing case that demonstrates their medical condition, treatment plan, and possible costs, we can achieve the goal of obtaining maximum benefits available to the worker. If necessary, we will also demonstrate the future financial impact of the injury to the employee and their family so that their benefits continue to provide the support they need.
Some industries have their own form of compensation for injured workers. These include railroad workers, anyone in the maritime industry, harbor workers and longshoremen, workers on military bases, overseas workers, and employees of the federal government. Working with a qualified Workers’ Compensation lawyer can ensure the claim is filed with the proper agency so that workers and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. This is especially important if the worker died and the family does not know how they should be compensated for their loss.
Additionally, we know that it can be difficult to communicate with an employer’s insurance company. When we take the case, we will handle all communications so that the worker can focus on their recovery.
As mentioned, under Workers’ Compensation law, workers may not sue their employers. However, if someone other than the employer was responsible for the conditions that caused the injury, injured employees may be able to file a third-party claim for compensation. For instance, if a work accident was caused by a faulty tool, the manufacturer of the tool may be held liable for those injuries. These claims go beyond a rogue employee or a load that was not secured properly.
The company that services the tools or equipment for the employer might have done a poor job, used faulty parts, or refused to issue a recall. Managers might have blocked their workers from reporting injuries, and insurance claims may never have been filed. At Freedman & Lorry, P.C., we will explore every avenue available to the worker to recover compensation that begins with basic insurance coverage.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Represent Injured Workers
If you have been injured at work or lost a loved one because of a work accident, you can trust the dedicated Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. to review your case, understand your rights, and recover the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 888-999-1962 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.