Common Misconceptions About Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation
No one plans to get injured on the job, but in the unfortunate event of a workplace accident, it can be beneficial to know about Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws—specifically, whether you’re covered and what kinds of benefits you can expect to receive.
First, the basics: In the event of a work-related injury or illness, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is designed to cover your medical expenses and compensate for lost wages until you are able to return to work. Many people might assume they are not eligible for workers’ compensation, but actually, nearly every worker in Pennsylvania is covered. Employers—including nonprofits and small or unincorporated businesses—are required to provide coverage for all employees, even those in temporary and part-time positions.
If you sustain an injury or develop an illness that is directly related to your work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. This can even include pre-existing condition, if it has been exacerbated by a work-related event. (Workers’ comp does, however, exclude self-inflicted injuries or those caused by drug use or intoxication.)
To ensure you’ll be eligible for benefits, prompt reporting is essential. Tell your employer right away if you were injured, including details of the injury, incident and time and place where the accident occurred.
If your claim is accepted, you will receive benefits based on the type and severity of injury or disability, ranging from payments for lost wages and medical care to specific-loss benefits (covering the loss of a limb, for instance) and death. You do not have to see a company doctor; instead, you are free to choose your own healthcare provider.
Benefits will cover approximately two-thirds of your average weekly wage and can be stopped once you’ve returned to work.
If your employer denies your claim, you can file a claim petition for a hearing before a judge, with the possibility that the judge will grant the benefits.
While you can represent yourself in workers’ compensation proceedings, the complex nature of these laws can be overwhelming—and your employer and the company’s insurer will definitely have an experienced attorney on their side. Therefore, consider talking to a lawyer as soon as possible—and particularly before you’ve signed any contract or other agreement agreeing to the benefits that you’re being offered.