Thousands of workers are hurt on the job every year. Injuries can happen in any work setting, and yet many people don’t know how to navigate the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system.
If you ended up a patient in the ER after a workplace accident, you need to know what to expect, how to deal with the insurance company, and when you will need to file a claim petition.
Learn the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Process
- Report your injury. You have 120 days to tell your employer about a work accident or your illness that was caused by doing your job. If you didn’t know you had an injury or illness, you have 120 days to notify your employer from the time you discovered that your injury or illness is work-related. If you wait more than 120 days to report your injury or illness, you could jeopardize your ability to receive workers’ compensation.
- Your employer should file a “First Report of Occupational Injury” form. The insurance carrier has 21 days to accept or deny the work injury, which would cover your medical treatment and lost wages. You must be off work and under a doctor’s care for at least 14 days to get paid for the first 7 days of lost wages.
- See a company doctor for the first 90 days (if a list is posted at your workplace). In Pennsylvania, you must see a company doctor for the first 90 days of your work injury to be compensated for your medical bills – as long as your employer has a list posted at your workplace. After the first 90 days of your injury, you can choose your own doctor. However, your employer’s insurance company can require you to see a company doctor every six months for an Independent Medical Exam. Be forewarned: It’s common for company doctors to release you to go back to work, even when you feel too injured to return. If that happens, you will likely need to file a petition and go before a judge to continue to receive your workers’ compensation.
- Your employer accepts or denies responsibility for your injury. If your employer accepts responsibility for your work accident injury or illness, you’ll receive a “Notice of Compensation Payable.” In some cases, you may be issued temporary workers’ compensation payments for 90 days. If your employer denies responsibility for your work injury, you will receive a “Notice of Compensation Denial.”
- Hire an attorney to file a claim petition on your behalf when necessary. If your employer denies your work injury or tries to terminate or suspend your benefits, you will need to file a claim petition to receive (or continue to receive) workers’ compensation. You have 3 years from the day you were hurt on the job to file a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim petition. Many patients try to file a claim petition without the help of an attorney, but make mistakes and hurt their chances to receive workers’ compensation.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The most common Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits are payments for medical expenses and lost wages. Your employer’s insurance company should cover your medical expenses even if they haven’t paid you for your lost wages.
Remember, you must be off work and under a doctor’s care for at least 14 work days to be eligible to receive lost wages benefits for the first 7 days you missed. The amount you can receive depends on the severity of your work injury.
Patient After a Work Accident? Know the System
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation continues to confuse and exasperate employees who are injured on the job. If you were hurt while at work, you’re already dealing with a lot. You were a patient – possibly in the hospital – and you may not be able to work.
Many workers allow their employers’ insurance company to take advantage of their inexperience dealing with the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. Understanding the process and knowing when to contact an attorney for help will help you protect your rights.
Attorney Dennis Liotta, a partner at the law firm of Edgar Snyder & Associates and manager of the Workers’ Compensation and Social Security disability departments, has over 20 years of experience helping injured workers get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. For a comprehensive overview of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system, download a free guide at: http://www.edgarsnyder.com/workers-comp-guide.