Have you or someone you love suffered an injury while at work? Has your employer tried to undervalue your claim? Has your employer’s insurance company denied your claim or benefits? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it’s time to contact the trusted workers’ compensation attorneys at the law firm of Schmidt Kramer.
Dennis made this “workman’s comp case” as stress-free as possible… the case was handled in a more than acceptable manner.
– Client of Schmidt Kramer
Our lawyers have over 25 years of experience and have successfully represented injured workers throughout Pennsylvania and recovered significant amounts of compensation including a $742,000 recovery for the family of a worker that was fatally injured on the job and a $150,000 settlement obtained by attorney Scott Cooper for a worker that was injured while trying to load a swingset onto a low bed truck.
There are no upfront fees if we take on your case and we offer a free consultation with a lawyer to learn more about your potential case.
Free Consultation. Call (717) 888-8888.
Why Hire a Workers Compensation Lawyer?
Injured workers that have legal representation stand a greater possibility of recovering workers compensation benefits or obtaining a work-related injury settlement.
While it can be difficult to immediately determine the value of your potential claim, our workers compensation attorneys understand that as an injured worker, you may have many questions and we can help to find the answers to your questions. We recommend contacting our firm and talking to a lawyer about your specific incident, so that we can determine if you have a valid case and if so, explain the legal options that may be available to you.
The initial consultation is free, there are no upfront fees if we agree to take on your case and we only get paid when we obtain a recovery on your behalf.
Do You Qualify For PA Workers Compensation?
Before filing for workers’ compensation in our state, it is important to determine if you are covered by Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act, and therefore eligible to receive benefits.
While most employees are covered by Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act, certain employees are covered by a federal plan instead, which makes them ineligible to receive Pennsylvania benefits.
Additionally, workers who are self-employed or employed by a private citizen cannot receive benefits on behalf of Pennsylvania. Employees who are NOT eligible for benefits include:
- All Federal Employees
- Railroad Workers, Freight Handlers and Engineers
- Longshore Workers and Other Harbor Workers
- Volunteers of any Kind
- Independent Contractors
- Domestic Workers, Housekeepers or Maintenance Workers for a Private Household
However, part-time and seasonal workers are covered under workers’ compensation, as well as employees who work for non-profit corporations or unincorporated businesses.
Workers’ compensation for self-employed individuals (known as workers’ compensation self-insurance) is available, but the cost of this insurance is not covered by Pennsylvania. Such insurance must be paid for by the self-employed individual.
Does Your Injury or Disease Qualify?
A “work injury” is any injury, medical condition or disease that is caused by a person’s job, according to Section 301(c)(1) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, 77 P.S. §411(1). The Act does not list specific types of injuries, other than the requirement that the condition must be related to the worker’s employment.
Additionally, a work injury may also include occupational diseases and pre-existing conditions that are aggravated by a person’s job. This means that everything from broken bones to strains and sprains to latex allergies to hepatitis may be considered a work injury.
Once you have determined your eligibility, you must then determine if your injury qualifies for a workers’ compensation claim. Certain diseases that arise from unsafe working conditions may also be covered by a claim. To qualify, the injury or disease must be severe enough to require medical treatment beyond simple first aid. It must have presented itself while you were working at your employer’s place of business during normal working hours, or at a time when you had prior permission to be on the property for work-related reasons.
Examples of on-the-job injuries that may qualify for a claim include:
For a disease to qualify, it must have been caused by, or sufficiently aggravated by, your work environment. Examples of work-related diseases that may qualify for compensation include:
- Inflammatory brain disorders
- Certain types of cancers
For more information on eligibility and qualifying injuries or diseases, contact the knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyers at Schmidt Kramer today.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania
When filing for worker’s compensation, you must first advise your employer of your injury. You must also inform your employer of the type of injury you received, where the injury happened, and the date the injury occurred.
It is best to do this as soon as possible after your accident, as there are specific deadlines you must meet in order to recover benefits. Such deadlines are established by a workers’ compensation advisory committee. This committee is responsible for implementing all workers’ compensation timelines and statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania.
After you inform your employer of your incident, he or she should complete all required forms and report your claim to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Completed forms should also be promptly submitted to your employer’s insurance company.
If your employer refuses to complete an accident report on your behalf, you may file a petition for workers’ compensation payments. You will also need to attend a series of hearings with a workers’ compensation judge. While you are not required to have a lawyer present during these hearings, we strongly recommend consulting one.
It is important to note that your employer cannot fire you or retaliate against you in any way after you have reported your workplace injury. Your employer may, however, fire you for other reasons or stop providing health insurance or other benefits.
Your employer’s insurance company has 21 days to either accept or deny your claim. With that said, it is not uncommon for injured employees to wait up to three weeks before receiving an answer regarding the status of their claim.
However, be aware that your employer’s insurance company may begin paying your medical expenses during this three week waiting period, even though they have yet to make an official decision regarding you claim.
Certain deceitful insurance companies have their own set of priorities, and paying the full value of your claim is not one of them. By covering the cost of one or two of your initial medical appointments, the insurance company is trying to persuade you to recover quickly and return to work as soon as possible.
Once you resume working as usual, the insurance company will most likely drop your claim, never having made a final decision regarding its acceptance or denial.
If complications relating to your injury reappear after you have returned to work, your employer’s insurance company will likely deny any responsibility for additional lost wages or medical expenses, citing your claim is lacking an official determination.
Therefore, it is important for all injured workers to obtain a definitive answer as to whether their claim was accepted or denied. It is also important to contact a reputable lawyer whom you can trust during the filing process.
Filing a claim can be tedious and confusing. There are many circumstances to consider and a multitude of forms to complete. Also, it is not uncommon for injured employees to make critical mistakes or miss crucial steps in the filing process, which can cause unnecessary set-backs or delays.
To increase the likelihood of your claim’s approval, contact an experienced lawyer from the law firm of Schmidt Kramer. Our lawyers can help you navigate the filing process and help ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
Call our firm at: (717) 888-8888 for a FREE review of your claim.
What Types of Benefits Are Available?
When people think of workers’ compensation, they may tend to just put it all under one big umbrella and think it’s one type of payment. The law actually provides a few different types of workers’ compensation benefits for employees that have been injured or killed on the job. If someone was hurt or killed because they purposely did it to themselves, or because they were violating the law, the person is not eligible for workers’ compensation.
The types of benefits available are:
- Payment for lost wages. If it’s determined that you are totally disabled and unable to work, or partially disabled and receiving wages less than your pre-injury earnings, wage loss benefits may be an option for you.
- Death benefits. If an employee was killed because of something related to their job, their surviving dependents may be able to receive death benefits.
- Specific loss benefits. If there is a certain part of your body that you’ve permanently loss use of, you could receive benefits—this includes all or part of your thumb, finger, hand, arm, leg, foot, toe, sight, or hearing. You could also receive specific loss benefits if you have a serious and/or permanent disfigurement on your head, face, or neck.
- Medical care. If covered, injured or ill workers can receive payment of related reasonable surgical and medical services rendered by a physician or other health care provider. This includes medicine, supplies, hospital treatment and services, orthopedic appliances, and prosthesis.
Appealing a Denied Claim for Workers’ Compensation
If your employer’s insurance company has denied your claim, you will not receive compensation for lost wages, and any medical expenses related to your illness or injury will not be covered.
Should you chose to reject—or appeal—the insurance company’s decision, it is important to understand that you cannot return to work during the appeals process. This means you may be without any income at this time.
Also, keep in mind that it can take up to one year (and in some cases, even longer) for a workers’ compensation appeals board to make a final decision regarding your appeal.
Lack of income for an extended period of time can easily cause undo financial hardship, and you may feel obligated to return to your job—or to seek another job—even though you are still injured.
However, returning to work is exactly what the insurance company would like you to do, as this will terminate any responsibility they have for paying your medical bills or compensating you for lost wages. Even though it is not advisable to return to work, there are other income options available while your claim is being reviewed.
If your injury prevents you from performing you regular job, but it does not prevent you from performing light duty tasks at a different job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
If your appealed claim is ultimately approved by the board, the amount of unemployment benefits you received while waiting for the final decision would be deducted from the total amount of workers’ compensation benefits you were awarded. In this sense, your unemployment benefits are similar to workers’ compensation benefits that were paid in advance.
If your employer offers a short-term disability plan, or if you purchased your own short-term disability plan prior to your injury, you may receive short-term disability benefits while you are waiting for a decision on your claim appeal.
And, like the unemployment benefits discussed above, the short-term disability benefits you receive while waiting on your claim appeal will be deducted from the total amount of awarded compensation.
If none of the above options are available, you may be eligible to receive welfare benefits, although these benefits often amount to much less financially than what you were receiving prior to your workplace injury.
However, if your claim is approved while on welfare, and you receive a workers’ compensation settlement, the benefits you received during the appeals process will not be deducted from your settlement. Also, you will be compensated for all lost wages, plus 10 percent interest on each year of lost wages.
What Should I Do if I Receive A Settlement Offer?
In some instances, injured workers may begin to receive wage loss benefits following your work injury and over a period of a few months, the workers’ compensation adjuster maybe quite friendly. Then, the adjuster may calls and offers a lump sum settlement. The adjuster may insist that it’s a good offer and a fair way to resolve the matter. The adjuster may also tell you that you don’t need an attorney and the attorney would only take money to which you are entitled. If you find yourself in this situation, you should contact an attorney IMMEDIATELY.
At Schmidt Kramer, we have had many potential clients call us who have found themselves in similar situations. Admittedly, sometimes the offer the adjuster made is reasonable and fair but sometimes it’s not even close to fair value. It’s always worth reaching out though; even if it’s a fair offer, an attorney most likely won’t charge you because there won’t be additional value to gain in the case. In the cases where the adjuster’s offer is too low, an attorney will put you in a good position to get the maximum value in your case.
Contact Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Harrisburg
The team of lawyers at Schmidt Kramer understand how difficult it can be to deal with an injury that has left you unable to work for a long period of time.
Although Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws are put in place to avoid lawsuits, it is still important to have someone on your side who knows how the system works, and who can ensure your rights are protected throughout the entire process.
If you or a loved one have been injured on the job, speaking with an experienced attorney can help you obtain the MAXIMUM amount of compensation you deserve.
Talk to our Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorneys today. We will investigate your claim and work to get you the help you need.
Schmidt Kramer. Ph: (717) 888-8888