How Do I Apply For Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation If I Was Injured At Work?
Once you suffer a work-related injury in Pennsylvania, whether from a traumatic accident or from repetitive work activities, you must notify your employer. You should try to give notice within 21 days of the injury, and the sooner the better. Once you give notice of your on-the-job injury, the employer and/or workers' compensation carrier has 21 days to accept, deny, or temporarily accept your claim by issuing one of three documents: a Notice of Compensation Payable, a Notice of Denial, or a Temporary Notice of Compensation Payable. If 120 days notice is not given, the claim will be barred forever.
Can I Get Pain And Suffering For My Work Injury?
No. There are no damages for pain and suffering in Pennsylvania workers' compensation. This is because fault is not an issue in workers' compensation, unlike in a third-party personal injury case.
Do I Have To Attend An Independent Medical Exam?
Yes. As long as you haven't attended one in a six month period, you will have to attend. If you do not attend, the employer/insurer will likely file a Petition to require that a court order be sought requiring your attendance.
What Benefits Will I Be Awarded If I Get Workers’ Compensation In Pennsylvania?
If you win your claim or if the employer/insurer accepts your claim without a fight, you will receive two-thirds of your pre-injury average weekly wage, plus medical benefits for "reasonable, necessary and related" medical treatment. Other benefits are available, called specific loss, for disfigurement, for loss of use of a body part for “all practical purposes and purposes,” or for loss of a limb, fingers, or toes.
Can I Sue My Employer For Negligence For Causing My Work Injury?
No. Pennsylvania workers' compensation is your only recourse against your employer for a work-related injury. However, if the injury was caused by a third party, meaning someone other than your employer, then you may have a viable personal injury claim against that third party if you can establish a defective or dangerous product or condition. Or, if you are injured in a car accident while on the job, you will have a Pennsylvania workers' compensation claim against your employer for lost wages and medical benefits, and a negligence claim against the driver for personal injury.
Can I Settle My Pennsylvania Work Comp Case For A Lump Sum?
Yes, if the employer/insurer is interested. The employer/insurer is not required to offer a lump sum settlement. It is a voluntary agreement between the parties. Most employers/insurers are interested in a lump sum settlement, called a "Compromise and Release". It is highly recommended that you speak with a Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney before settling your case.
Will I Have To Testify In Court?
A. Again, it depends on your situation. If a petition is filed, you will likely have to testify before the workers' compensation judge. Sometimes he testifies at one deposition, or both. Your Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney will prepare you for your testimony in terms of what to expect.
If I Live In Another State, But I Am Injured In Pennsylvania, Can I Get Workers’ Compensation In Pennsylvania?
Yes. If you are injured while working in Pennsylvania, then you are eligible for Pennsylvania workers' compensation, even if you reside in another state. Similarly, if you live in Pennsylvania, but are injured in another state, you may still be eligible for Pennsylvania workers' compensation benefits, if you were hired by a company in Pennsylvania.
How long will my case take?
No. However, there may be legal consequences. If you don't test work, the employer will likely file a petition to modify or suspend your wage loss benefits, stating that work is available within your restrictions. If your doctor says you can't do the job, the workers' compensation judge will ultimately have to determine if the job is something you can handle, after reviewing your testimony, the testimony of witnesses from any employer, and any testimony from your treating physician and/or an independent medical examiner. If you have been offered a job, it is highly recommended that you speak with a Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney.
If I Am Receiving Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits And My Employer Offers Me A Light Duty Or Modified Duty Job, Do I Have To Accept It?
It depends as each case is different. Some claims are short-lived, just a few weeks, because the injured worker returns to work. In other cases, the claims last much longer, sometimes even years. In terms of litigation, a petition can take up to a year or more for the workers' compensation judge to make a final decision. You should talk to your Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney about your specific case.