Workers' Compensation Rights Lawyers in Pittsburgh, PA
"What is workers' compensation? How does workman's compensation work?" These are common questions that can have complicated answers, but simply put, work comp is a form of insurance that replaces an injured worker's wages and pays for his or her medical expenses related to the work injury. Work comp is not a lawsuit against an employer – it is a request for benefits.
There are many other aspects that are important to know when it comes to work comp claims – including how long you have to file your claim (120 days from the date of your injury), how to seek medical care, and the different types of work comp benefits. These aren't things that you should be expected to know or figure out on your own.
You trust your health to doctors and your car repairs to a mechanic. They are specialists who have been trained in a subject that is too complicated and too important to tackle by yourself. Workers' compensation is the same way – if you've been injured at work, your livelihood is at stake. You should trust your claim to someone who knows exactly what is involved in the work comp process from start to finish.
Our experienced Pittsburgh workers' compensation rights lawyers are board certified and have helped thousands of people hurt on the job. We can help you, too. We offer free legal consultations and are available 24/7 at 412-394-1000.
What Is the Law for Workers' Compensation?
The laws controlling work comp vary from state to state and sometimes even from industry to industry. Pennsylvania workers' compensation rights and responsibilities can seem confusing and overwhelming, but an experienced work comp attorney will know all the ins and outs and can help you navigate the system.
The most basic explanation of work comp is: With few exceptions, all employees injured on the job in Pennsylvania are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. You are eligible for work comp benefits even if you were at fault for the accident that caused your injuries.
However, there's a lot more to it than that. There are certain types of benefits injured workers can file for – including scarring, hearing loss, and loss of a limb. In certain circumstances there may also be a personal injury claim. Some employers don't carry workers' compensation insurance. And, of course, some employers create roadblocks to try to deny or stop work comp benefits.
These are all circumstances that we've seen time and time again, and we know just how to handle them.
Can My Employer Terminate Me While on Workers' Compensation?
This is an obvious worry that people have when they go on workers' compensation. You unexpectedly get hurt at work and are now facing recovery from an injury. You have no idea what that injury means for your job and you wonder – will my employer be upset and fire me because I filed for work comp benefits?
The short answer is that employers can terminate employees who are on workers' compensation, but they can't terminate you because you're on work comp. This is called retaliatory termination and it is illegal.
The long answer is that being on workers' compensation doesn't protect you from being laid off if your employer is laying off a large group of people. You are subject to the same treatment as any other paid employee. In addition, it doesn't protect you from being fired due to unsatisfactory work performance. There are any number of reasons an employer can legally terminate you while you are receiving work comp benefits.
What employers aren't allowed to do is fire someone because they have applied for or are receiving workers' compensation. If you think this may have happened to you, it is important to contact an experienced Pittsburgh work comp attorney as soon as possible.
Can You be Fired From Your Job While on Workman's Comp?
As discussed above, work comp benefits don't protect you from being fired. However, you can't be fired solely because you are on work comp.
Another question people often have is: Can I be fired if my injury makes it impossible or difficult for me to do my job?
If your injury makes it totally impossible for you to do your job, then your employer has the right to terminate you – this is especially true for jobs that are physically demanding. But if you can still do your job and simply require special accommodations to do so, your employer is not allowed to fire you. This would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Again, you should contact an experienced attorney if you suspect this has happened to you.
The next logical question is – if I am fired while receiving workers' compensation benefits, what happens to my benefits? Do I lose them?
In most cases, even if you are fired or laid off, your work comp benefits will not end. If you were injured on the job, the law says you are entitled to keep those benefits regardless of whether or not you are still employed.
The exception to this is if you are fired with cause (for disciplinary reasons, for example). In that case, your employer does not have to continue to pay your benefits.
Again, if you suspect that you have been fired because you are on workers' compensation or if you think that your benefits have been unfairly terminated, you should immediately contact a workers' compensation attorney. Workers' compensation law can be confusing, and it's not in your best interest to try and navigate it alone.
How Much Does Workers' Comp Pay You?
Work comp benefits vary from person to person and from state to state. In Pennsylvania, workers hurt on the job are entitled to a number of different benefits – from lost wages to hearing loss to scar benefits. Below we will outline these different payment types, including how much they pay and who is entitled to collect.
Lost Wages: You may be most familiar with this type of benefit that entitles you to a portion of your weekly gross pay, up to a maximum amount. In 2018, the maximum amount an injured worker can receive in work comp payments is $1,025 per week.
- If you earn between $768.76 and $1537.50/week, you would receive 66% of your weekly pay.
- If you make between $569.44 and $768.75/week, you would receive a flat rate of $512.50.
- If you make less than $569.43/week, you would receive 90% of your weekly pay.
Scar Benefits: Scarring on your head, face, or neck can lead to a drastic change in your quality of life and emotional well being. It is a constant reminder of your accident and injuries. Whether or not you receive compensation for a scar depends on a number of factors, such as:
- The location of the scar
- Whether or not it was the result of a work injury
- If surgery was necessary
- How much disfigurement the scar caused
An experienced workers' compensation attorney will gather all the necessary details to determine if your scarring entitles you to work comp benefits and if so, how much.
Hearing Loss: This is one of the most common work injuries that people experience. Even though employers are required to regulate noise levels, hazardous noise environments continue to affect millions of workers. In fact, 4 million workers face damaging noise every day, and almost half of all male miners will experience hearing loss by the age of 50.
If you think that your hearing loss was caused by your job, you can contact us with your questions. We're available 24/7.
Loss of Limb: "Specific Loss" is a work comp benefit you can claim if you lost, or lost the use of, a body part. It is a lump sum payment, meaning a one-time payment that's not added to your workers' compensation checks. You may qualify for specific loss if you've lost use of:
Medical Expenses: Many medical expenses are covered under Pennsylvania workers' compensation law. What's more, you don't have to miss work to be compensated for your medical treatment. Medical expense payments are considered separate from lost wage payments. Some of the covered services are:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital stays
- Prescription drugs
- Diagnostic tests
- And more
Uninsured Employer: You might be surprised to know that not all employers carry work comp insurance. Most are required to have it, but just because that's what the law says doesn't mean that's what people do.
If you are hurt on the job and you find out that your boss or employer doesn't have workers' compensation insurance, you should contact an experienced work comp attorney right away to talk about your options. There are ways to still get benefits if your employer is uninsured, but there is a 45-day time limit to do so.
Don't Try to Handle Your Work Comp Claim Alone: There's Too Much at Stake
The Pennsylvania work comp process can be extremely confusing and can sometimes feel like a burden for someone who is worrying about their health and their ability to earn money. There are deadlines to meet, medical bills to pay, rules that have to be followed, and insurance companies to deal with. It's not something that you should try and figure out on your own – one mistake can permanently jeopardize your right to receive work comp benefits. We can handle all of the details to make sure you have the best chance possible at a successful claim. That way you can focus on what matters most – getting better.
If you were injured at work and have any questions, feel free to contact us by calling 412-394-1000 or by filling out the form at the top of the page. We offer free work comp legal consultations and are available 24/7.