Being injured at work can be stressful even if your medical bills are paid, and you are able to keep working. Being hurt at work and being unable to work is even worse. Being injured at work and not knowing your rights and your options is worse still.
Even if your claim has been paid voluntarily by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, it doesn’t hurt to talk to a lawyer about your claim. The insurance company representative may be friendly on the phone, but the insurance company’s primary duty is to its shareholders, not to the injured worker.
Reporting On-the-Job Injuries
You should always report your on-the-job injuries to your employer, even if you don’t think your injury is serious. If you are unsure of how to handle the situation, you can contact Tom Sennett of Kunkle and Sennett. In most cases, we provide a free consultation over the phone at our West Chester, PA law office.
Keep in mind that reporting your injury in a timely fashion is crucial. Not only does Pennsylvania have strict rules about telling your employer about your injury, but delaying a report might cause your employer and its insurance carrier to be suspicious about the legitimacy of your claim. There may also be a delay in the payment of benefits or in securing medical treatment.
Every employer in Pennsylvania is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Although some employers try to get around this by calling employees “independent contractors,” Pennsylvania law usually favors in finding that there is an employment relationship. This entitles the employee to the protection of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
The Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
When you report an injury, your employer must file a report with their workers’ compensation insurance company, and the insurance company must file a report with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. The insurance company then has 21 days to accept or deny the claim. While the injured worker is supposed to receive notice from the insurance company about whether his claim has been accepted or denied, many carriers will fail to provide written notice, or at least not in a timely fashion, leaving the injured worker in the dark about their status. If the insurance company denies the claim, you must then file a petition with the bureau to obtain benefits.
While there are many specific types of petitions which may be filed with the bureau, they are generally one of two types: (1) a petition to secure benefits (filed by the employee), (2) or a petition to reduce benefits (filed by the employer and its insurance carrier). When a petition is filed with the bureau, the bureau then assigns the petition to a workers’ compensation judge. The judge will schedule a hearing and set the schedule for presenting evidence. Usually, there will be several hearings over the course of several months.
As part of the petition process, you may be required to undergo an examination by a doctor chosen by the insurance company. You may need to attend and participate in mediation, a process to try to reach a settlement between the parties with the assistance of a workers’ compensation judge.
There Is No Charge to Discuss Your Case
Under Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation law, no attorney fee may be paid to a lawyer representing an employee unless a workers' compensation judge approves that fee. Your lawyer should only receive a fee if they are successful in obtaining benefits for you, or if they are successful in preserving your benefits where the insurance company seeks to cut off or reduce them.
Call Tom Sennett of Kunkle and Sennett to protect your rights and to ensure your fair treatment.