The Pennsylvania Workers’
(“the Act”) provides coverage for injured
The employer is required to secure insurance, either through private
insurance, the State Workers Insurance Fund, or
There may be serious consequences if the employer fails to obtain
proper insurance. Some employers may require workers to agree
advance that they are not employees or otherwise classify the workers
as “independent contractors”; however, the worker
bound by such an agreement and it may be necessary to initiate
litigation in order to determine whether the injured worker is entitled
to coverage under the Act.
The Act provides for certain benefits
injured worker. The injured worker may obtain wage loss
medical expenses benefits and, in the case of fatal injuries, funeral
benefits and survivors benefits payable to certain dependants.
If you are injured, the
injury should be reported
to management even though initially there may be no lost
The employer is obligated to report the claim to its insurance company
and the insurance company is obligated to issue a written decision
within 21 days of the report, indicating whether the claim is accepted
or denied. There are specific forms required by the
of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) that must be filed in
to document the handling of each claim. The insurance company
will require verification by medical record to substantiate the injured
worker’s claim. If the injured worker is incapable
type of employment, he/she may be entitled to Temporary Total
Disability benefits. If the injured worker is capable of
employment, but at reduced wages, the injured worker may be entitled to
Temporary Partial Disability benefits.
Disputes over entitlement,
amount and duration of
benefits are resolved by filing petitions to the Bureau of
Workers’ Compensation. BWC assigns the dispute for
conducted at the local level. The individual presiding over
hearing is a Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ). The
will schedule hearings. The hearing procedure is conducted with a
certain degree of formality with witnesses, both factual and medical or
vocational expert witnesses, testifying under oath.
the WCJ will require briefs from the parties’ attorneys
issuing the written decision.
Do I Need an Attorney?
The injured worker is at a
disadvantage unless he/she retains counsel.
Employer will be represented by its insurance company. The
insurance company will have lawyers available to represent the
interests of the Employer and the insurance company. The insurance
company may initially deny your claim such that litigation cannot be
Once the injured
worker begins receiving
disability benefits, the employer, through its insurer, may take
advantage of certain procedures authorized by the Act to modify,
suspend or terminate benefits. The Act provides certain
but also imposes certain obligations upon the injured worker.
be bound by the rules even if you do not have an attorney.
Compensation insurer may propose
a partial or full settlement of the injured worker’s
There are many factors to consider when determining whether the
proposal is fair. An experienced attorney will help you get
the settlement you deserve.
How Much Will My Attorney
All counsel fees
agreed upon by the injured worker
and his/her attorney, for services performed before any
Compensation Judge must be approved and are typically limited to 20% of
the amount awarded to the injured worker. When circumstances
warrant, the WCJ may order the insurance company to pay the injured
worker’s attorneys fees, though unfortunately, such an award
Concerns. What Should I Do?
You should contact
an attorney experienced in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation
matters to understand your rights and obligations.
Attorney Barry C. Shabbick handles most
Workers’ Compensation matters for our firm.
Shabbick gives individual attention to each case. You may
Attorney Shabbick by calling any of our offices to schedule a brief
telephone conference to discuss your case. Later, an office
appointment will be scheduled by mutual agreement.