Workers’ Compensation FAQs

What is a work injury?

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, a work injury is defined as any injury or medical condition that is caused by an individual’s job. In addition, occupational illnesses are also included in the definition of work injury. Although the law does not list specific injuries or illnesses that are covered, broken bones, back injuries, muscle strains, and repetitive motion injuries are some of the most common work-related injuries.

Who provides workers’ compensation benefits?

All employers in Pennsylvania are legally required to provide workers’ compensation coverage to all employees. An employer that fails to do so may be liable for civil fines and penalties.

How do I know if I’m eligible for workers’ compensation?

You are eligible for workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania if (1) you were hurt at work, (2) your employment aggravated a pre-existing injury, or (3) you developed an occupational illness. If you are injured while commuting to or from work or during a break, however, generally speaking you do not qualify for workers’ comp benefits.

What if my injury was my own fault?

You are still eligible for workers’ comp benefits even if your injury was your own fault, as long as it was not intentionally self-inflicted.

When do I need to notify my employer about my injury?

Generally, notice of an injury must be given within 120 days after it occurs; however you should notify your supervisor as soon as you are hurt, even if you think that the injury is minor or will not require medical care. If you fail to report your injury within 120 days, you lose your right to workers’ comp benefits.

Can I sue my employer for an on-the-job injury?

In exchange for receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you forfeit the right to file a lawsuit against your employer. You may be able to sue other parties that may have been responsible for your injuries, however. If you were injured by defective equipment at a construction site, for example, you may have a valid third party claim against the manufacturer or distributor.

What types of payments will I receive from workers’ compensation?

If your workers’ comp claim is approved, you can receive payments for:

  • Medical benefits
  • Lost wages (total or partial disability benefits)
  • Specific loss benefits
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Hearing loss

Surviving family members of a worker who is fatally injured in a workplace accident may also receive death benefits.

How much will I receive for lost wages?

Generally, payments for lost wages in Pennsylvania cover about 2/3 of your average weekly wage. There are exceptions, however. First, there is a predetermined maximum payment amount, which is adjusted annually. The maximum weekly compensation rate for calendar year 2019 is $1,049.00. In addition, some workers may receive either a fixed rate or 90 percent of their average earnings, depending on the amount of their weekly wages.

When will I receive my first check from workers’ compensation?

If your claim is approved, you should receive your first workers’ compensation check 21 days after informing your employer of your injury.

Do I have to go to the company doctor for my work-related injury?

If your employer maintains a valid Panel List, you are required to see a company-approved doctor for the first 90 days of your medical treatment. Thereafter, you can choose your own doctor after 90 days of treatment. If your employer does not maintain a list of approved doctors, you are allowed to see any doctor you choose from the beginning of your medical treatment.

What is a vocational examination?

Depending on the circumstances, your employer may be entitled to have you examined by a vocational expert. The purpose of this exam is to determine your ability to earn money in an effort to reduce your wage benefits. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can help you prepare for this exam and protect your rights thereafter.

Can I collect Social Security disability benefits if I am on worker’s comp?

You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits as long as you meet the eligibility requirements; however, your disability benefits may be reduced based on your receipt of workers comp benefits.. You should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to learn how these benefits work together.

What is a Petition to Terminate, Modify or Suspend Benefits?

This is a petition that your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier may file in an attempt to reduce or stop your wage loss and medical benefits. If you receive this petition, it is crucial to contact your worker’s compensation lawyer immediately to protect your rights.

Why do I need a lawyer to handle my workers’ compensation claim?

Despite the fact that injured workers have a right to workers’ compensation benefits, employers and insurance companies often attempt to deny claims. The insurance company has a team of lawyers to help it deny and minimize claims. You need a lawyer from the beginning of your claim to level the playing field. In addition, there are strict deadlines and exacting procedures governing workers’ comp claims. If you miss a deadline or you do not follow the rules, your claim may be denied.

The best way to protect your rights is to consult a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law. Please contact our office today for a free consultation.