The idea behind the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation program is simple: there is a partnership between a worker and his employer. When an accident happens in the workplace, the employer has the obligation to see that the worker receives reimbursement for any necessary medical expenses and—if the worker is unable to work for a lengthy period—a portion of his regular wages. In return, the worker gives up his usual right to sue for personal injury damages.
Ideally, then, workers’ compensation benefits both parties: the worker gets the security of knowing his injuries or occupational disease will be treated at no cost to himself, and the employer does not have to worry about lawsuits from his workers.
However, the system works only if everyone follows the script. If the employer fails to follow the required procedures, a worker may find himself unable to recover for his Pennsylvania workplace injuries. This not only breaks the relationship between employee and employer, it breaks the law.
What are the employer’s obligations for workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania?
It turns out that the employer doesn’t have to bear a huge burden to fulfill the obligations of the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law. It can be summarized as five key requirements:
- The employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance. A few very large businesses in the Commonwealth are allowed to “self-insure” by arrangement with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Most companies are required to purchase insurance from a private source.
- The employer must notify all employees of their workers’ compensation rights. Usually, the employer will post notices in a common area that employees have access to during the workday, such as a break room, lunchroom, or near the time clock. The information should include the name and contact information for the company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, a list of at least six doctors approved for injured workers to choose as their treating physician, and other details of how this company implements workers’ compensation rules. Newly hired workers should also be given a written handout telling them about their rights.
- The employer must promptly provide emergency medical care for an injured worker. Following a workplace accident, company officials should act immediately to call for an emergency medical response team appropriate to the scale of the incident. Injured workers must be given access to emergency care and any reasonable and necessary follow-up care without restriction.
- The employer must notify its insurer of the incident. This should happen within one workday of the time the company has been informed that a workplace injury has occurred. If the company self-insures, the company workers’ compensation benefits administrator should be notified.
- The employer must provide the injured worker with appropriate claim forms. Again, this should be done within one workday from the point when company management is notified about the injury. The company also should provide the injured worker with written instructions about filing a workers’ comp claim.
If your employer has failed to fulfill his duties, what happens next?
If you have been hurt on the job in Pennsylvania, you certainly will expect your boss to fulfill his legal obligation to provide your workers’ compensation benefits. But if your employer fails to follow through on the required duties, it will be up to you to make sure your legal rights are honored. We’re sorry it has to work that way, because clearly you’re not going to be at your best following a workplace injury.
For that reason and many others, you may wish to hire a Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorney from Schmidt Kramer to represent your interests. While you are not allowed to sue your employer for personal injuries at work, we can file suit to get you the benefits you are legally entitled to receive. Schmidt Kramer has helped hundreds of injured workers gain compensation for their workplace injuries in Harrisburg, Carlisle, Lancaster, Lebanon, York, and other nearby communities. Call us at 717-888-8888 or (717) 888-8888 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review and to order a FREE copy of our report, Who Pays The Bills When You Are Injured At Work?