If you need to consult with an attorney or would like more information on workers’ compensation, please contact the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral & Information Service.
Workers' compensation provides benefits for employees in Pennsylvania who are injured in the performance of their employment. An injury can include traumatic injury or a disease.
You must notify your employer that you have a work-related injury within 120 days of the occurrence of the injury or disease, even if you haven't lost any earnings as a result, or your right to assert a claim will be lost forever. If you fail to notify your employer within 21 days of the occurrence of a work-related injury, your right to collect benefits will be delayed. If you receive word that your claim has been rejected by your employer or the employer's insurance carrier, you must file a claim petition with the Workers' Compensation Bureau within three (3) years of the occurrence of the injury or disease, again, even if you haven't lost any earnings as a result. Failure to provide notice or failure to file the claim petition within those time periods will result in your claim being dismissed. You are also entitled to payment of all reasonable and necessary medical bills related to your injury or disease which are incurred as a result of your employment. Your medical bills may be adjusted by your employer or insurance carrier, but you are not responsible to pay for any reduction. You are not entitled to compensation for pain, suffering or inconvenience.
Once your claim has been accepted, or you have been awarded benefits by a Judge, you will be entitled to have all of your medical benefits related to the work injury or disease paid in full, and you will also be entitled to a weekly benefit for lost wages based on a formula using your average weekly wage. You will be entitled to benefits for lost wages if you are unable to work at all, if you are working at a lower paying job because of your injury, or if you are working part-time because of your injury.
The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation laws are administered by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation of the Department of Labor and Industry in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In the event the employee and the employer do not agree that Worker's Compensation payments shall be paid in a particular case, the employee is entitled to a hearing before a Judge who will make the eligibility decision.
If, on the other hand, the insurance company is not satisfied that the employee has a work related injury causing that employee to earn less money than he or she was earning at the time of the injury, the insurance company will deny the claim. If the claim is denied and the employee believes he or she should receive compensation benefits, then the employee should file a claim petition with the Bureau of Workers' Compensation in Harrisburg, and the matter will be referred to a Judge for hearing in the county where the injured employee resides. If the injured employee has not yet contacted an attorney, it would probably be a good idea to do so at this point, as workers' compensation issues can be very complicated. If the claim is one of a serious nature, a Judge will eventually suggest that the employee might need the services of an attorney competent in this area. If you are already receiving Workers' Compensation benefits and the employer or insurance company files a petition to terminate or reduce your benefits, you should also contact an attorney experienced in Workers' Compensation law to make sure your right or entitlement to benefits is protected.
Attorney fees in Workers' Compensation cases are usually on a contingent fee basis with the maximum set at twenty percent (20%) of the amount awarded. Attorney fees are subject to the approval of the Judge.
The information provided in this message is only a very general description of Workers' Compensation law. In actuality the law can be quite complex and, depending on your individual circumstances you may need much more information than is available on this tape. We recommend that you contact an attorney who is familiar with Workers' Compensation law in order to determine if legal representation is advisable in your case.
Information is current as of 2/2019.