Lancaster Workers Compensation Lawyer
Workers Compensation Claims in Lancaster County
If you end up injured while performing your regular work duties, you may find the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation process quite complicated, full of time deadlines, rules, and regulations. Further, if you like your employer, you may feel as though you are betraying him or her by filing a Lancaster workers’ compensation claim. It is important to remember that your employer is required by law to pay into the workers’ compensation system and that you, the employee, also pay into the system. The workers’ compensation system was set up to protect workers who are injured on the job, ending up with medical expenses, perhaps long-term rehabilitation expenses, and lost wages to deal with.
Every state is allowed to put its own spin on workers’ compensation. Because of this, covered benefits and benefit levels differ from state to state, although all workers’ compensation laws do have certain things in common. By 1949 every state sad some form of workers’ compensation program, although as of 2018, Texas was the only state in which some form of workers’ compensation was not compulsory. Regardless of those compulsory requirements, individual businesses may purchase workers’ compensation insurance voluntarily. According to insuranceregulatorylaw.com, states vary in their workers’ compensation programs in five significant ways: coverage requirements for employers, statutory waiting periods, maximum temporary total disability benefits, maximum benefit duration, and compensation rates.
The statutory waiting period is the number of days an employee must wait before benefit payments commence, while coverage requirements refer to the extent a private sector employee must carry the insurance. Most states require all private employers to participate, although some will have a minimum employee requirement. As of 2013, the maximum number of weeks for temporary total disability benefits ranged from 104 weeks in Minnesota and Texas to 1,000 weeks in Wisconsin. There was also a wide range in available compensation from state to state, with Iowa’s highest payment being $1,103 per week and Mississippi paying out a high payment of $331.00 per week. The states which are considered the “friendliest” to those filing a workers’ compensation claim are Alaska, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
Workers’ Compensation in the State of Pennsylvania
Coverage for sole proprietors, partners, and corporate officers is optional in the state of Pennsylvania. Exemptions are in place for: outworkers, farmers with one employee who works less than 30 days a year or earns less than $1,200 per year, licensed insurance agents who work on commission only, licensed real estate salespeople who work on commission only, domestic or casual laborers, and a spouse or child of a farmer-employer who is under the age of 18. Employees are covered for the entire period of their employment, beginning on the first day on the job. Regardless of the employee’s prior physical condition, injuries, or diseases which are caused or aggravated by employment are covered under workers’ compensation.
Time Limitations in a Lancaster, Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim
Many workers who are injured on the job make a serious mistake in neglecting to report the injury for a few days or even a week or so. Although their intentions may be good—they are simply waiting to see just how bad their injury really is before they begin the complex process of a workers’ compensation claim—they can end up barring themselves from compensation for their work-related injury. You should notify your employer as quickly as possible following your workplace accident or illness—in some instances, an insurance company may deny your claim if there is a lapse of time between the incident and when you report the incident to your employer.
Give prompt notice—both verbally and in writing—to your supervisor. Telling a co-worker is not generally considered legally sufficient. The Pennsylvania statute of limitations for a workers’ comp claim is 120 days from the date of the injury or the date you became aware that your condition was work-related. Even though you have 120 days for providing notice, if you wait too long you are still risking having your claim denied. There is one exception to the 120-day rule in the state of Pennsylvania which is occupational diseases such as cancer or chemical poisoning or exposure. To qualify for compensation for an occupational disease, you must become injured or disabled within 300 weeks of the last date of exposure in the job which caused your occupational illness.
The primary reason for prompt notification to your employer is so you will gain access to medical attention. Even if you have health insurance coverage, your Lancaster workers’ compensation benefits should cover all your medical expenses related to your workplace injury or illness. As soon as you notify your Lancaster employer of your work injury, you will fill out an incident report which includes details of your injury, including how it occurred, the location, and whether there were witnesses to the incident. Once you have notified your employer and filled out an incident report, the insurance carrier will notify you within 21 days of regarding the acceptance or denial of your claim. While it would be rare, if your employer refused to report your injury to the insurance company, you have the right to report it on your own.
What About Injuries Which Develop Over Time?
An illness or injury which has slowly developed over the time you’ve spent at your workplace can make the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim more complex. Such illnesses as mesothelioma or injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome can develop over weeks, months, years, or even decades. These types of illnesses or injuries are often known as cumulative traumas. Your statute of limitations in such cases revolve around the time you first took time away from work either because of the injury or to see a doctor about the injury and the time when you knew the injury was a direct result of something in your workplace. In the case of a cumulative injury or illness, it is important that you contact an experienced Lancaster workers’ compensation attorney who can help you get the compensation you need and deserve.
How Long Can You Stay Off Work When You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
We are seeing a trend of employees who are staying off work longer and longer, meaning workers’ compensation payers are funding temporary disability benefits for longer amounts of time. Some believe this is due to our current economic climate, which leads to fewer return-to-work opportunities for those injured in the workplace. Regardless of the economic conditions of the United States, employee benefits remain valid.
When faced with these facts, workers have few incentives to recover from their accident and return to work. Further, while the frequency of workers’ comp claims started a slow decline in 1991, helping to reduce rising medical costs, this trend has basically flattened out. Some believe this is due to a job market which hires less experienced employees who are more prone to injuries while others believe employers are cutting back on safety initiatives with negative employee results. In the state of Pennsylvania, the time limits for being off work under a workers’ compensation claim include:
- For a temporary, total disability which assumes you will successfully resume your regular job duties, you can collect lost wage benefits for a maximum of 90 days.
- For a permanent partial disability (which assumes you are 49 percent or less disabled and that you cannot recover from your illness or injury within 90 days and cannot resume your same job duties) you can collect partial lost wage benefits for a maximum of 500 weeks.
- For a permanent, total disability (which assumes you are 50 percent or more disabled and that you will not be able to return to your job in any capacity) you can collect lost wage benefits indefinitely.
- If you are disfigured, the maximum length of time you can collect lost wage benefits will be decided on a case-by-case basis, and in some cases, the insurance company may offer you a lump sum settlement.
What is a Workers’ Compensation Lien?
Work-related injuries can support both a workers’ compensation claim as well as a personal injury claim under certain circumstances. If an employee is said to have placed a lien on the claim in a workers’ case, this means they have filed a personal injury suit in addition to the workers’ compensation claim for expenditures they were forced to pay out of pocket. In short, suppose you are injured at your workplace. You file a workers’ compensation claim for your injuries and you begin receiving payments. You then sue a third party you believe is responsible for your accident, and you win your lawsuit. That person or entity then becomes responsible for paying your medical expenses. At this point, the company who paid your workers’ compensation payments files a lien for the funds which were paid to you by the third party. This particular process in which an employee claims the right to reimbursement from a third party who had a hand in the accident and resulting injuries are also known as subrogation.
Our Lancaster Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Are There When You Need Us
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Lancaster County workers’ compensation attorneys can help you if you have been injured on the job or have developed an occupational illness which is job-related. If the insurance company has denied your workers’ compensation claim, it is important that you speak to an experienced Lancaster workers’ compensation attorney as quickly as possible.
We aggressively defend our clients and are proud to represent all injured Lancaster County employees, including those living in Lancaster, Ephrata, Elizabethtown, Columbia, Lititz, Millersville, Willow Street, Mount Joy, Leola, New Holland, Manheim, East Petersburg, Akron, Denver, Maytown, and Reamstown. No matter where your workplace injuries occurred in Lancaster County, our attorneys are ready to assist you. Contact us today at (717) 291-9400 or (877) 529-2422. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603.