By Dennis Plank, Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Whether you work in an office, a factory, or a construction site, in a warehouse, outdoors, or elsewhere, your employer is responsible under Pennsylvania Law for providing insurance benefits to compensate injured workers for lost wages and medical expenses under the terms of The Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act. The workers’ compensation program was started over 100 years ago to provide employees with compensation for lost wages and payment of medical expenses arising from work-related injuries and work-related medical conditions, regardless of fault. The Act also protects employers from direct lawsuits by employees.
Although the vast majority of employers in Pennsylvania are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees, there are a few exceptions. However, the majority of employed Pennsylvanians are covered under the law and have well-defined rights and recourse under the Act. Most people don’t think much about workers’ compensation until they find themselves injured. The law can be confusing. That’s why we are offering this list of nine important facts you need to know about workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania.
Fact: Not all Types of Injuries are Covered by Worker’s Compensation
While it’s true that Pennsylvania law covers most types of injuries and illnesses encountered as a part of your employment, not all injuries are included.
- Self-Inflicted Injuries: If your injuries are intentionally self-inflicted, you are not covered for benefits under the terms of the Act. Any attempt by an employee to intentionally harm himself in order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits is both fraudulent and not covered under the Act.
- Physical Attacks: If you are physically attacked by a co-worker for personal reasons, or if you are physically attacked by a person not associated with your workplace, you are not covered under Workers’ Compensation. However, such physical attacks are illegal and should be reported to your employer and the police immediately.
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse: If your injuries were caused as a result of alcohol or drug use, you are not covered. It is your responsibility to conduct your work soberly and without drug use.
- Breaking the Law: If you are injured while breaking the law, or as a result of breaking the law, you are not covered.
- Commuting: Generally, if you are injured commuting to and from work, you are not covered. However, if you are in the course of traveling as part of the performance of your work duties such as driving to a remote work site after reporting to work, making deliveries for your employer, traveling for business, or you are injured while driving or making deliveries for your employer, you may be covered.
Fact: Workers’ Compensation Covers Injuries That Occur Over Time.
Not all work injuries happen in a moment. Some occur slowly over time from repetitive motion, like back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome. Your employer should not require you to repeatedly work in awkward or uncomfortable positions or require you to work repetitively without breaks or variety, nor should your employer subject you repeatedly to physical force, weight, impact, or vibration.
Additionally, your employer should make sure they are using the right tools and equipment optimally placed for your physical requirements. Extreme temperatures and poor work organization are also factors in repetitive injuries. If you’re not sure if your injury is covered, please set up a free consultation at Going and Plank, and we’ll help you determine your rights.
Fact: Part-time Employees are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania
Workers’ Compensation is not reserved for full-time and salaried employees. In Pennsylvania, both full-time and part-time employees are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Fact: Your Injury may be Covered, Even if it Didn’t Happen on Employer Property
PA law does not require that your injury occurs on the work premises to be covered under the Act. If you were injured while doing work requested by your employer, you may be covered. While commuting is usually not covered, if you were injured in an accident while running an errand for your employer, you may be covered. While commuting is not covered, you may be covered if you fell in your employer’s parking lot. If you travel for work or drive for a living, accidents that occur while you are working, regardless of location, are covered. Request a free consultation at Going and Plank to find out if your injury is covered.
Fact: There are Time Limits on Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you are injured on the job or realize that you have acquired a work-related medical condition over time, report it to your employer as soon as possible. Your report should include when and where the injury occurred, and you should describe the type of injury. While verbal reports are acceptable, written reports are preferred. You should make a copy of your written report and keep it for your records.
Additionally, you must report your injury within 120 of the date or injury to receive Workers’ Compensation benefit, or, in the case of conditions incurred over time, with 120 days of the date of your diagnosis. However, it’s much better to report the injury within 21 days to ensure you get the maximum compensation for medical bills and lost income. If you’re not sure you’ve met the time limits, contact us at Going and Plank for a free consultation.
Fact: If you Have Contracted a Condition or Disease as a Result of the Environment at Your Workplace, You may be Eligible for Workers’ Compensation
If you have contracted a medical condition or disease as a result of exposure to unsafe working conditions or unsafe activities, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation. Occupational diseases can be caused by repeated exposure to asbestos, dust and air-borne particles, fungicides, gas, infectious agents, metals, noise, pesticides, herbicides, pressure, radiation, solvents, temperature, and vibrations. Many conditions and diseases can be classified as occupational diseases, including:
- cardiovascular system disease
- central nervous system disease
- hearing loss
- heart disease
- liver disease
- lung disease
- mental health issues
- musculoskeletal disease
- psychiatric diseases
- renal disease
- reproductive system disease
- skin disease
- vision loss
Fact: Workers’ Compensation is Usually Paid in Addition to Sick Pay
Worker’s Compensation claims are rarely paid quickly. If you need to take time off work because of a work injury, use your sick time and make sure your employer is notified in writing that you are taking sick time to recover from a work-related injury. (And keep a copy of that written notification.) In most cases, your Worker’s Compensation will be paid in addition to sick time taken. Union members may have alternate agreements in places, so if you’re part of a union, check with your union boss for details. If your employer is forcing you to take sick time instead of filing for Workers’ Compensation, contact the team at Going and Plank to ensure your rights are being protected.
Fact: Your Employer has a Worker’s Compensation Attorney Working for Them. You Should Too.
When Workers’ Compensation claims are filed, your employer’s insurance company uses an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney to protect the company’s rights and their financial interests. To make sure you aren’t deprived of your rights, and to ensure receipt of all wage loss and medical expense benefits you deserve, you should also hire a Workers’ Compensation attorney.
Workers’ Compensation cases can be complex, and the insurance company’s goal is to avoid payment of claims if possible. With an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side, you’ll be able to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
Going and Plank has over 35 years of experience representing Workers’ Compensation clients. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation on your case.
Fact: The Law Offices of Going and Plank Only Gets Paid if You do
Many people are scared to incur additional costs when they’re dealing with Workers’ Compensation issues. However, Going and Plank won’t charge you upfront fees for a Workers Compensation case. In fact, we don’t charge you anything unless you receive your benefits, compensation, or settlement. That means we’re interested in getting you the best settlement possible. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.