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Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Laws

Maybe you strained your wrist working feverishly in your Pittsburgh office, or aggravated a pre-existing back injury while visiting a client in Philly. If you've suffered a work-related injury or illness in Pennsylvania, you should know the benefits and requirements for filing a workers' compensation claim.

Through workers' compensation insurance, employers agree to compensate their employees for almost all employment-related injuries and illnesses regardless of fault. In turn, the employee gives up the right to file a lawsuit against the employer in most cases.

Below is a table showing important parts of Pennsylvania's workers' compensation laws, including the types of benefits and key deadlines.

Important Deadlines
  • 21 days to give notice of work-related injury to employer; after 120 days, claim is time-barred (Sec. 631 et seq.);
  • Employer and employee may agree upon compensation on or after 7th day after injury (Sec. 731);
  • 3 years to file claim petition seeking benefits for injury (Sec. 602)
Types of Benefits
  • Health care expenses: surgery, doctor visits, medicine, medical equipment, lab tests, etc. (Sec. 531)
  • Partial disability payments: to compensate employee unable to work at full capacity (500 weeks max) (Sec. 512)
  • Total disability payments: to compensate employee unable to return to work (no time limit) (Sec. 511)
  • Permanent injury payments: to compensate for loss of a body part (duration varies) (Sec. 513)
  • Death benefits: paid to spouse and minor dependents if employee dies from work-related injury or illness within 300 weeks after injury (Sec. 411)
Employer Rights & Obligations
  • Employers required by law to provide workers' compensation to all employees, with limited exceptions (Sec's. 431 & 22);
  • Employers shielded from liability (can't be sued) for situations covered by workers' compensation (Sec. 481)
  • Employer may request employee be examined by appropriate provider/expert, at employer's expense (Sec's. 531 & 651)

Who Is Considered an "Employee" in the Context of Workers' Compensation?

In Pennsylvania, anyone who performs services for another in exchange for something of value is considered an employee. However, there are exceptions, including domestic and casual workers, and some people may elect not to be covered, such as certain executive officers. Employees are covered for injuries sustained on or off the premises while the employee is acting in furtherance of the business affairs of the employer. For example, a worker who breaks his leg at a mandatory, off-site company retreat in the Poconos may receive workers' compensation (although intoxication could prevent it in some cases).

What Should I Do If I've been Injured?

If you've been injured, you should first get immediate medical attention and tell the provider that your injury or illness is job-related. Within 21 days, inform your employer of your injury (what, where, and when it happened) to receive benefits as soon as possible. If you wait more than 120 days, your claim may be barred.

What Happens After My Employer Has Notice of My Injury?

Once you've informed your employer of your injury, they and the insurer must investigate the injury and -- within 21 days -- either deny the claim or begin making payments equal to two-thirds of your weekly wage. The employer may require you to see a designated health care provider for 90 days and may also request that you be examined by a designated health care provider or expert at any time after the injury.

What Should I Do if My Claim Is Denied or Challenged?

If you and your employer/insurer cannot agree on compensation, you should file a petition within three years to have your case heard by a workers' compensation judge. The judge will set a mandatory schedule for presenting evidence, attending hearings, and attending a mediation conference. An attorney can be instrumental in preparing the appropriate documents, filing on time, arguing against your employer's attorneys, and representing you in front of the judge. If you disagree with the judge's decision after this trial, you may appeal to the workers' compensation board.

Injured on the Job? Receive a Free Claim Review from a Pennsylvania Attorney

The last things you want to deal with after you've been injured are the strict deadlines and confusing calculations of a workers' compensation claim. Learn more about these requirements and the strength of your case by receiving a free claim evaluation from an experienced, local attorney who is familiar with Pennsylvania's workers' compensation laws.

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