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Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law Favors Insurance Companies

Posted On Behalf of Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers on Dec 13, 2012 in Workers' Compensation

Pennsylvania workers who are totally disabled and unable to work may receive workers’ compensation benefits indefinitely. Partially disabled workers are subject to benefit time limits, reduced benefits or suspended benefits. It is in the best interest of employers and insurance carriers to reclassify workers as partially disabled whenever possible because it reduces their benefit expenses. 

The following are two ways an injured worker might be reclassified for workers’ compensation purposes: 

  • After 104 weeks, workers’ compensation insurance carriers can demand that an injured worker submits to an impairment rating examination using American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines. These guidelines ignore all subjective information including doctor opinions and pain levels. If the medical examiner finds the workers’ impairment to be less than 50%, the worker’s disability status is changed to partially disabled. Although weekly benefit amounts are not reduced, the length of time the worker may receive the benefit payments is capped at 500 weeks.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance carriers may hire vocational experts to conduct a labor market survey of jobs the disabled worker might qualify for based on the worker’s education, experience and physical limitations. The purpose of the survey is to show that the injured worker still has earnings power. However, there is no requirement that a job is actually available or that another company would actually hire the disabled worker to do the job. Based on the survey alone, weekly wage loss benefits may be reduced or suspended. 

Many of the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws appear to protect insurance carriers at the expense of the disabled worker. If your workers’ compensation disability status has been reclassified and you need legal assistance to fight the insurance carrier, call a knowledgeable Carlisle workers’ compensation lawyer at Schmidt Kramer for assistance. Our toll-free number is 888-476-0807 and the workers’ compensation case review is free.  You may also wish to download our book Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured at Work? for more information.