Philadelphia Area Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you have been injured at work, you need attorneys your side who understand the intricacies of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act and all of its regulations and are prepared to advocate for your rights. The experienced and skilled Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Silver & Silver know the law and are dedicated to helping our clients achieve the best possible legal results.
Workers’ Compensation Basics
Workers’ Compensation is a state insurance program that pays benefits for workers who sustain injuries or illnesses while on the job or while otherwise acting on their employer’s behalf. Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania is legislated under two separate acts, the Workers’ Compensation Act of 1915 (with amendments) and the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act of 1939.
Workers’ Compensation law in Pennsylvania is “no-fault” legislation, meaning that if an injury occurs on the job, fault or negligence of either the employer or the employee is not a defense. In Pennsylvania, if an employee is injured at work, the employee is limited to wage compensation of two-thirds of the employee’s salary in addition to related medical and other wage benefits. When an employee returns to work, the employee’s compensation is reduced based on the amount of work he or she can do and the wages he or she can take home.
The Workers’ Compensation Act is mandatory and is an exclusive remedy that makes it so one cannot sue one’s employer for injuries that occur in the course of employment, except in limited cases of intentional torts of the employer and under the injury or disease provisions of the Act. However, if an employer fails to provide Workers’ Compensation coverage, an employee can elect either to sue the employer in tort or under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Right to Compensation
In order to establish the necessary elements to entitle a worker to compensation under the Act, there must be both:
- An injury that occurs to an employee which arises in the course of employment and is related thereto, and,
- Such injury must result in disability or death.
- Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, employers include: Persons, partnerships, companies, municipal corporations, commonwealths, government agencies and certain other entities.
- Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee is one who is paid by an employer to perform work and also includes certain other individuals as specified by the Act.
- Independent Contractors:
- Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an independent contractor is not an employee. In order to determine whether one is an independent contractor or an employee, Workers Compensation Judges examine a number of factors including but not limited to: (1) who or which entity has direction and control of the employee, (2) the wording of contracts and/or agreements entered into between the parties, and (3) whether or not equipment and/or tools are provided by the supervisor/employer.
Injury Definition under the Workers’ Compensation Act
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, employment-related physical injuries include exacerbations of pre-existing conditions, even when the main factors causing one’s disability are not work-related. Thus, in a situation when one suffers from a pre-existing injury that is aggravated during the course of one’s employment, the employer is entitled to pay compensation. However, if it is determined that disability is primarily the outgrowth of one’s pre-existing condition, such disability does not meet the definition of an injury under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
In the case of psychological injuries, the analysis is different. Specifically, the claimant has the additional burden of showing the specific nature of the injury (i.e. the claimant must show that an abnormal working condition triggered the psychological problem).
In order for a claimant to prevail in a Workers’ Compensation claim, one must show that one’s disability is causally connected to the injury in question. In order to make this showing, in most cases, the opinion of a medical examiner drawing such a medical connection unequivocally and to a reasonable degree of medical certainty is required.
Notice of Injury
The Workers’ Compensation Act has a notice provision that requires that an employee give notice of an injury to the employer within 120 days of the injury. Furthermore, if an employee does not provide notice within 21 days of the injury, the employer is not required to pay benefits for the period of time prior to the notice being given. As a result of the time-sensitive nature of these claims, if you think you may have a potential claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits, you should call our office immediately for a free consultation. Any delay could result in a loss of benefits or inability to qualify for benefits at all.
While the previous paragraphs serve as a basic overview of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law, in reality the law is complex and can be difficult for a lay-person to fully understand and navigate.
If you’ve been injured while in the course of employment, the experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Silver & Silver are standing by to provide you with a free consultation to discuss possible rights and remedies. Contact us today.