If you work in the greater Harrisburg area and have been injured at work, you may need the service of an attorney. There are a lot of ways you can be hurt at work, including slipping or falling, cutting or burning yourself, joint damage due to repetitive motions, power tools or machinery mishaps, and much more. All of these can limit your ability to work or function without pain.
Being unable to work is simply not an option for the vast majority of people. Luckily, you have legal protections if you’ve been injured on the job, thanks to the Pennsylania Workers’ Compensation Act. A Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyer could help you pursue the benefits you need.
What Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Harrisburg?
Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to alleviate the pressure of being unable to work and its adverse impact on your life. They include:
- Lost wages. This compensates you for the wages you would be earning if you were healthy enough to work.
- Medical care Hospitalization, rehabilitation, medicine, surgery, applications or medical accessories can all be major expenses. You should not have to pay for these.
- Death benefits If you lose a loved one to a work-related incident, your family may be entitled to certain benefits.
- Amputation & specific loss If you lose part of your body as a result of a work-related accident, there are very specific benefits and compensations under the state law.
Workers’ Comp Claims Process
If you’ve been injured at work, there are two critical steps you must take as early as possible to ensure your ability to file a workers’ compensation claim. Those steps are: 1) seek medical attention and 2) notify your employer that you’ve been injured.
You are free to go to any healthcare provider or hospital, unless your employer has already accepted your claim and provided you with a list of six possible providers. In this case, you must — at least initially — go to one of the six on the list provided. Filing a claim with your employer should be a simple and straightforward process. Once you file the necessary paperwork, your employer will either accept or deny your claim, though they often will rely on guidance from their insurance company in this process.
If your claim is accepted and you’ve missed at least a week of work, you may start to receive workers’ compensation payments within 21 days. However, claim denials are simply a reality. If your claim is denied, you still have recourse. You can file an appeal with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, whereupon a judge will weigh evidence from both sides to render a decision. During this process, you will need input from medical professionals as evidence that you are unable to perform your duties at work. This is where an experienced Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyer is an invaluable asset.
- Lost wages: approximately two-thirds of your weekly salary, up to a maximum.
- Medical care: current and future costs associated with diagnosing and treating your injury, including medicine, surgery, hospitalization and orthopedic equipment
- Disability benefits: based on the amount and severity of an injury, benefits may be temporary or permanent, and either for partial or total disability
- Amputation and specific loss: benefits to cover loss of a limb, sight or hearing
- Disfigurement benefits: benefits to cover permanent and serious disfigurement of your head, face or neck
- Dependency benefits or death benefits: benefits that may be available for a financially dependent surviving spouse and children—if the children are under the age of 18, full-time students younger than 23, or physically and/or mentally disabled
What Kinds of Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Harrisburg?
There’s really no limitations on what kinds of injuries can be covered by workers’ compensation benefits. If you’ve been injured in the execution of your responsibilities at work and are now unable to perform those responsibilities, you are eligible. In some instances, even if you were injured doing something outside of your normal day-to-day responsibilities but for your employer, you could be eligible. For example, if you’re driving to a work site and are in a car accident, you may still be eligible. If you’re not sure, the best course of action is to give us a call and speak with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys.
Some of the most common types of injuries that are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits are:
How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last?
The length of workers’ compensation benefits depends entirely on the seriousness of the injury. The distinction is between those are you partially disabled versus those who are totally disabled. Partially disabled is defined as an injury that has left a worker less than 50% impaired. For workers who are partially disabled, the maximum compensation period is 500 weeks. If a worker is more than 50% impaired, they are deemed totally disabled. Employers can request a medical evaluation to ascertain the level of impairment after 104 weeks.
When Should You Claim Workers’ Compensation?
If your work injury is minor, it is common for your employer to work with you and begin the workers’ compensation process immediately. They can help you file a claim and thus have your medical bills covered. However, if your employer does not immediately cooperate with the process or doubts your injury claim, you should immediately contact a local workers’ compensation attorney. If your injury is more serious and requires surgery, involves the loss of a limb, major scarring, or anything that will require missing several weeks of work, your safest bet is to immediately contact an attorney, as this process is often time more complicated.
What if Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Terminated?
If your benefits are terminated before you feel they should be or if you are directed to return to work before you are actually able, you should immediately contact a local workers’ compensation attorney. You should also do so if you receive written notice that your benefits are about to be terminated or if your employer requires you to undergo an IME (independent medical exam) as these can be used as a pretext to terminating benefits.
Can You Be Fired for Filing for Workers’ Compensation?
The short answer is no. In a 1998 Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling Shick v. Shirey, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that if an employer terminates an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the employee is within their rights to sue the employer for wrongful termination. Being injured does not protect you from termination for other reasons, however. If you’re at any point in the workers’ compensation process and are notified that your employment is being terminated, you should immediately contact a workers’ compensation lawyer in Harrisburg.
What if My Workers’ Compensation Claim was Denied?
Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. If you’ve been injured and filed a claim which has since been denied, the next step is an appeals process. The process involves being evaluated by medical experts and presenting your case to a judge who will hear both your case and the case of the insurance company. This is why it is absolutely vital to have a good Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorney on your side with experience in dealing with medical experts and building cases for judges. The earlier your attorney is involved in the process, the better they are equipped to help you.
Seek the Services of a Harrisburg Workers’ Compensation Attorneey
As with many legal proceedings, your chances of successfully obtaining the benefits and protections you’re afforded under law go up dramatically when you retain the services of a professional workers’ compensation lawyer in Harrisburg like our own Jim Mogul.
A workers’ compensation attorney can help you take full advantage of the rights and protections the law provides for you.