You’re working on the job, you’ve taken the proper safety precautions, and everything seems fine. Then all of a sudden, a line breaks, someone’s footing slips, the railing isn’t as sturdy as it should be, or someone calls your backup away. Suddenly, you may find yourself on the ground, unable to get up, bleeding, or even waking up in the hospital. This is a common example of just how quickly a workplace injury can occur, leaving workers to suffer.
What you know is that you did everything right, because you prepared for everything you could, but still got hurt. Your work contract promises that you will be taken care of should any workplace injuries occur, but that support isn’t there. If you’ve found yourself in this kind of situation, you may have a case against your employer. Not only for possibly endangering you, but failing to support you.
The Scranton personal injury attorneys at Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano are here to fight for your rights and offer the support you’re owed as an injured worker in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act
Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) covers the majority of employees in the Keystone State. When businesses have more than two employees, the state requires them to have workers’ compensation insurance. This grants benefits to workers who are bodily injured or diseased while on the job. Mandatory workers’ compensation should cover any previous injury or disease a new workplace injury aggravates as well.
This compensation system for workers has existed in Pennsylvania since 1915. It charges the Department of Labor and Industry alongside the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to make sure employers follow the law. Even with these legal protections, companies will still do everything they can to avoid having to compensate you with their insurance.
They want to avoid compensating you because:
- It can lead to raised insurance premiums.
- It may mean they’re admitting the accident was management’s fault.
- The employer has a bias against the employee; the employer doesn’t believe an injury is serious; or the employer believes that it didn’t take place during work.
- They may need to pay for sick time while the employee is out.
Workers’ Compensation No-Fault System
Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system is considered a no-fault system. This means that whether the accident was your fault, management, or another co-worker’s, insurance can accept your claim. It cannot be made invalid based on who caused the accident. This protects you and co-workers if you make an error, but it also dissuades management from trying to cover up a mistake. They’ll have to pay it even if they can prove it was the fault of you or another employee.
The downside is that you cannot sue an employer for the injury itself because it’s no-fault. This does not stop you from contacting a personal injury lawyer over an unfairly invalidated or ignored claim. You can still sue on the grounds that your employer did not give you due compensation, but the law does support you if you try to sue for more than fair compensation.
Who Does the Law Cover?
There are specific kinds of workers who fall under PA’s Workers’ Compensation Law. While most do, there are some exceptions, listed here:
- Contractors: The company that is paying to have the work done does not have to cover contract workers, but private contract companies do.
- Casual employees: Someone who works freelance, or as needed.
- Volunteer workers: Unpaid volunteer work is inapplicable to workers’ compensation.
- Domestic help: Servants who perform tasks like watching over children or cleaning. Their employer can enroll them into workers’ compensation but they do not have to.
- Religious Exemption: Employees can request an exemption based on their religious beliefs.
- Agricultural workers: People in the agricultural industry who work less than 30 hours a week, and/or earn less than $1,200 in a calendar year from one employer.
- Executives: Executive employees can request to be exempt from workers’ compensation, due to their status in the company.
Common Workplace Injuries Covered by Law
There are several typical types of workplace injuries that we have experience in proving. Employers will have a harder time trying to prove these are invalid due to how common they are.
- Slips, falls, and trips: Falling off platforms, cranes, vehicles, ladders, etc; slipping on wet floors, loose mats, etc.; platforms collapsing; being knocked over by customers and other employees.
- Protective injuries: Injury sustained while trying to protect oneself from further harm, such as trying to grab onto objects or falling on an arm to protect the body from impact.
- Struck by an object: Objects falling on the employee, or vehicles such as forklifts driving into employees.
- Repetitive strain injuries: Think of carpal tunnel syndrome, or sprained wrists, injuries that last a long time before they fully heal, if ever, and the employee must work before they are completely healed.
If you are a victim of any of these accidents, please bring that information to any prospective lawyer.
When does insurance not compensate for workplace injuries?
- When an employer can prove an injury or death is self-inflicted. For example, any attempted or successful suicide on the job.
- When you sustain an injury while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- If you sustain the injury during your commute work, but there are exceptions if your job involves driving or using a company vehicle.
If your employer tries to deny you workers’ compensation based on any of these reasons when they are not true, our experienced personal injury lawyers are ready to take your case.
What Benefits Does Workers’ Comp Owe You?
There are limitations to what workers’ compensation covers. They are extensive but have limits across five categories. Your company’s package decides how long workers’ comp covers you. This information is usually private between you, your employer, and the insurance company.
- Wage-loss benefits – Compensation will cover up to two-thirds of your weekly salary, with some insurance premiums covering up to 90%.
- Medical care benefits – Compensation covers all “reasonable” medical and/or surgical care. Your employer can give you a list of physicians that you must see for work-related illnesses for up to 90 days after your first treatment. Employers often argue over what they consider reasonable.
- Death benefits – Compensation can go to your spouse, any children under 18, your parents, your siblings, and children who are full-time students or disabled while between the ages of 18 and 23. Compensation takes the form of a percentage of your weekly salary, with your spouse receiving 51%, your child being 60%, and multiple children getting 66%.
- Specific loss benefits – Compensation for if you permanently lose a body part, such as hands, fingers, legs, feet, or toes. You would be awarded compensation based on a set calendar, deciding the number of weeks of compensation you will receive.
- Disfigurement benefits – Workers’ compensation gives special benefits to anyone whose face, neck, or head is permanently disfigured.
Scranton Personal Injury Attorneys: Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano
Experience counts for a lot, especially when you’re going up against companies with more resources than you. If you have suffered an injury on the job, and your employer is trying to deny you owed workers’ compensation, you need an experienced law firm on your side.
Contact us for a free case evaluation, so we can learn how we can help you. You can call (570) 348-0776 to schedule an appointment at our law firm, conveniently located in downtown Scranton. We can also meet with you in your home or hospital room, whichever is convenient for you.