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Q: I work for a demolition company in Pennsylvania. About a year ago, I was severely injured on a job site when a collapsing masonry wall struck me in the head and upper back. I still am not able to return to work. How can a Harrisburg workers’ compensation

A:

Let’s begin with saying how sorry we are to hear about your injury.

As you may know, all businesses in Pennsylvania are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits to employees who are injured or contract an occupational illness in the course of their jobs. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault program, which means it doesn’t matter whether you, your boss, or a coworker was to blame for the accident that hurt you—you automatically qualify for coverage.

Even though you automatically qualify, that doesn’t mean you automatically receive workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania. You must make sure you follow the rules, or the company may try to deny your claim. The two key rules you have to follow are:

  1. You must inform your employer in a timely manner about your injury.
  2. You must be evaluated by a doctor and attend all follow-up appointments.

The grand bargain behind Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law is this: because your benefits are guaranteed as long as you follow the rules, you must give up the right to sue your company for damages. You don’t get a choice here, just as your company doesn’t have a choice about buying workers’ compensation insurance.

Then Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Ideally, you don’t need a lawyer. The way things should work is that you notify your boss about your injury, your boss tells his insurance company, the insurance company contacts you to get some basic information, and then the checks begin to arrive a few days later. Workers’ compensation will pay all the medical expenses from your job-related injury and will give you a portion of your lost wages if you miss work for an extended period.

In real life, things rarely work out so easily. Your employer or his insurance company is likely to take steps to cut off your benefits as soon as possible—or to deny them altogether—in order to avoid the financial drain of your case. You might have to deal with any of the following objections to your claim:

  • The insurance company denies your claim as not job-related.
  • The insurance company says you missed medical appointments and cancels your benefits.
  • Your benefits end because the company says you have reached maximum medical improvement.
  • Your boss offers you a new job that he says fits your medical limitations—but you can’t do it.
  • The insurance company says they have evidence you are faking your injuries, and they move to close your claim.

Even though you cannot sue your boss for damages, you can take your company and its insurance carrier to court to demand the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed—and this is where the assistance of an experienced employment benefits attorney can be essential. In addition, if a third party was at least partly responsible for your injuries, it may be possible to seek civil damages or a settlement, and that case could get you additional money unavailable from workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania.

When you need the help of a workers’ compensation attorney, you can rely on the legal team at Schmidt Kramer. We are ready to provide vigorous representation on behalf of clients in Dauphin County, Lebanon County, Lancaster County, and all surrounding communities.

Our book on understanding Pennsylvania comp claims—Who Pays The Bills When You Are Injured At Work?—is available FREE to Pennsylvania residents by download or through the mail.

Call us today at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review and to learn how a Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyer can help you achieve your true maximum recovery.