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Understanding the Value of Your Pennsylvania Workers' Comp Claim

Posted D. Joseph Chapman on Jul 30, 2013 in Workers' Compensation

It’s natural, after you have been injured on the job, to wonder how much money you should receive in workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. After all, you are probably debating with yourself whether hiring a lawyer will be necessary to get a fair and full settlement, and all the attorney advertisements have been pretty vague on just what exactly you should receive. So how can you make a fair comparison when you nobody gives you a straight answer about the value of your claim?

Here at Schmidt Kramer, we’re going to tell you the truth: we don’t know what your claim is worth. Nobody knows. All those other lawyers are being vague because they don’t know what dollar figure to assign your injuries. But together we should be able to find out—and that means we need your attention for the three minutes it will take for you to finish reading this article.

Why is it so hard to pin down the value of your claim?

Every professional has a whole collection of “rules of thumb” to help make quick appraisals and judgments. We’ll be honest—we do, too. If you have read our book, Who Pays The Bills When You Are Injured At Work?, you know that we talk a lot about how a Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorney can use his long experience to evaluate your case. But the main lesson from our experience is this: the specifics and circumstances of your injury are so critical that they swamp all other considerations for setting a value on your claim.

There are three parts to the value of every workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania. Let’s look at all three.

Medical Costs

You are entitled to receive all reasonable and necessary medical care at no expense to you to achieve the maximum improvement to your condition after your workplace injury. But once you tell us that you have, say, a fractured fibula—a leg bone—we know that medical expenses for that injury can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. What matters most are the details of the initial injury and the process of recovery. Until we uncover the full scope of your fracture and your prognosis over time, we can’t narrow down the ultimate costs for your care and rehabilitation.

Income Loss

Some attorneys will tell you that you will get two-thirds of your pay while you’re unable to work. That’s the standard rule of thumb, but there are many exceptions. Your pay is calculated in a complex way that factors in overtime and any bonuses you normally receive. However, your income support can never be greater than the average weekly wage in Pennsylvania (set at $917 for calendar year 2013).

It’s relatively easy to calculate what your weekly workers’ compensation wage support should be, but that’s not enough to tell us the total value of your claim. But the biggest question is this: how long will you be out of work? We can’t estimate that until we know the extent of your injuries, the typical recovery time, and all the other imponderables of your medical condition.

Miscellaneous Factors

Was your accident purely the fault of your employer or coworkers, or was it due to negligence from someone else who may be liable for non-economic or punitive damages? Will you suffer permanent disability, disfigurement, loss of a limb, paralysis, or other extraordinary harm that can inflate the value of your claim? The fact is that every workplace injury is unique and must be evaluated in depth on its own terms. If any attorney tells you he can pin a dollar amount on your claim based on a phone conversation, he’s boasting of skills he doesn’t really possess.

Getting a reliable estimate of how much your workers’ compensation claim may be worth starts with a consultation with an attorney. You can call Schmidt Kramer at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review with an attorney well versed in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law. Do not expect a definite figure for your claim even after that interview. Every case must be investigated in depth, including a thorough review of your medical records.

You can trust that having a lawyer on your side can help get a fair offer from the workers’ compensation insurance company that handles claims for your employer. Insurers throughout the Commonwealth know the Schmidt Kramer team by reputation and understand we will not let our clients be intimidated or bullied into a low settlement.

If you need a review of your workers’ comp case, if you have questions to be answered, or if you wish to request a FREE copy of our book, contact Schmidt Kramer today at 888-476-0807 or fill out our online contact form.