West Chester Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Fighting for Workers Throughout Pennsylvania
Your entire world can turn upside down when you are injured at work. You may have suffered a significant work injury that could impact your ability to return to work or make a living again. There are also medical bills that you must now contend with you did not have before. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program that most Pennsylvania companies are required to offer that will help defray your medical costs and partially reimburse you for your lost wages.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania law is not definitive when specifying which workers are covered under workers’ compensation and the benefits for which they are entitled. In addition, the process itself can be lengthy and bureaucratic, particularly in cases of workers without long-term disability.
An experienced West Chester workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate the system. They will represent you throughout the process and confront your company or their insurance if they are failing to fulfill their obligation.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that negligence does not have to be involved in order for you to collect benefits. In exchange for this flexibility, you are prohibited from filing a claim against the company for their role in your accident.
The injury must have taken place on work premises or while you were engaged in a work-related activity. You must also be working at the time of the accident and not off duty.
If you suffer from an accident at work, there are several actions you will need to take immediately or risk losing your opportunity to receive your compensation. These steps are as follows:
- Report the accident: If you do not require immediate medical attention, you should report the accident right away to your supervisor. If you cannot do it immediately owing to medical reasons, you have 120 days from the day of the accident to report it. You also have 120 days from the day you learn that you have contracted an illness from conditions at work. If you fail to meet this deadline, your employer is not under any obligation to pay you workers’ compensation.
- Seek medical attention: If your injuries are severe enough that you require immediate medical attention, you should not hesitate to go to the hospital. Even if you do not believe that you were seriously hurt, you should have a doctor examine you to make sure. Some injuries do not manifest themselves until later. Your employer should have a list of company-approved doctors you will need to see. You have 90 days from the day of your accident to see one of these doctors. If you do not see one of these doctors and choose to see your own physician, you risk not having access to your workers’ compensation for at least 90 days.
- Obtain evidence: If you can, obtain evidence about your accident. Take pictures of the area where you sustained your injury with a particular focus on the conditions that might have led to your accident. You should also obtain a copy of your timecard or any other evidence that proves you were working at the time of your accident. Finally, speak with any witnesses who might have seen what happened and obtain their contact information so you can reach out to them later.
- Employer files forms: Once you report your accident to your manager, they will then submit a First Report of Occupational Injury form to the company’s insurance company and as well as the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The insurance company then has 21 days to decide on the claim. If you want to receive your benefits for your first seven days of lost wages, you need to be off work and under a doctor’s care for at least 14 days.
If the insurance company approves your request, you will receive a Notice of Compensation Payable and could receive temporary workers’ compensation payments for 90 days.
You will receive a Notice of Compensation Denial if the insurance company denies your claim. You can appeal this decision by filing a claim petition. This must be filed within three years from the day you were injured to file this petition. During this process, you will appear before a judge during a series of hearings. The judge will then make a final ruling on whether you receive benefits.
What Benefits Can I Receive through Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation covers many of your primary economic costs that you suffer when you are injured at work. Those specific benefits include:
- Medical bills: After you sustain your injury regardless of its severity, you should seek medical attention. Workers’ compensation will pay for any evaluations or treatments, so be sure you keep a record of all your receipts and notes from your doctor. You must use an employer-approved doctor in the first 90 days of your injury; you can use your own doctor after that.
- Lost wages: If your injuries prohibit you from returning to work in the same capacity, you will be unable to collect a paycheck. Workers’ compensation will pay you back a portion of your original salary. The Department of Labor and Industry makes a pre-determination on the amount of money dispensed for salary under workers’ compensation, and that amount changes year-to-year.
- Death benefits: If a loved one dies because of an accident they sustained at work or succumbs to an illness they contracted from work conditions, workers’ compensation will reimburse the family for that loss, including funeral costs and other associated costs.
Workers’ compensation will also pay for vocational training should your injury prevent you from returning to your original career path. The benefit will cover training you wish to receive to learn a new job skill.
You should also note that even if your medical bills are being paid, it does not necessarily mean that your workers’ compensation has been approved. Your wages should be paid as well when your claim is approved.
Who Must Carry Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania?
Most companies in the commonwealth must carry workers’ compensation insurance, although there are a few exceptions. Those include:
- Independent contractors.
- Agricultural employees who work less than 30 days or earn less than $1,200 in a calendar year from one employer.
- Employees exempt because of religious beliefs or their executive status.
If you do not fall into one of these categories, yet your company is still not offering you Worker’s Compensation, speak to a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you with the situation.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me with My Case?
Given how deceptively complex the workers’ compensation process can be, it makes sense for you to have a lawyer on your side who will ensure that the process goes smoothly. They will handle the process for you to ensure that you do not miss any required steps, and you promptly receive your payments without a problem.
Should you encounter resistance from the insurance company or your own company, the lawyer will be there to speak on your behalf with them to help resolve any conflict that might arise.
West Chester Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Will Use Their Experience to Help You
The worker’s compensation process should be simple after you are injured, but there are unforeseen obstacles that can get in your way. That is when you need a lawyer to step in and help you through the process. Our West Chester Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC have years of experience that we will bring to your case to see you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation today. We are located in Exton, Pennsylvania, where we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.