The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act was created to assist workers with financial benefits to compensate for lost wages, medical bills, disability payments, ongoing care costs, and improved ergonomics. Injuries on the job can occur at various workplace environments, ranging emotional anguish to physical impairment.
In Bucks County, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you file a claim and obtain coverage for your injuries. A hardworking injury attorney could ensure you are fairly compensated for the harm you suffered on the job.
Common Worksite Injuries
The type of injury claimed under workers’ compensation is highly fact-specific, depending upon many circumstances from time employed to the nature of the employment, and even includes contingencies depending upon the claimant’s physical build. Common workplace injuries include:
- Spinal injuries, including herniations and bulging discs
- Torn ligaments
- Broken bones
- Traumatic head injuries
- Severe burns
- Cardiac arrest
- Carpal Tunnel
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Workplace violence
- Chronic fatigue
A local attorney could review the guidelines of a company’s workers’ compensation and ensure the injured claimant receives enough recovery to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in Bucks County?
The government created workers’ compensation laws to ensure all working people are provided medical coverage if hurt while on the job. Well-practiced lawyers in Bucks County can help ensure an employee who is injured on the job follows the correct procedure to recover compensation.
Filing a Claim
The first step after suffering harm at work is reporting the injury to the employer. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act requires that the work injury be reported within 120 days of the incident. The sooner the claim is reported, the stronger the claim will be. After the claim is filed, the employer will determine whether injury is work-related. This requires reviewing and analyzing proof from a medical professional validating the claim and causally relating the injury to the work-related incident.
Obtaining Medical Treatment
Claimants must obtain medical treatment for their claims. This begins the process of creating a paper trail that will later be scrutinized by the government. Visiting an emergency room via ambulance is usually the most preferred method for traumatic injuries. Also, medical visits should include urgent care facilities and primary care doctors. The gap between the onset of the injury and the first date of medical treatment can be used to deny a claim, depending on how much time passed before the claimant first sought professional care. While scheduling coordination difficulties can explain a gap of one day to several days, weeks or months without treatment often lead to the denial of a viable claim.
Appealing Benefit Denials
If a claimant is denied benefits under workers’ compensation guidelines, checks and balances are in place to assist with appealing the denial. In addition to establishing the Workers’ Compensation Board to oversee newly filed claims, the legislature also established the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board to review individual denials.
If a claim is improperly denied, the claimant must gather all necessary documents to file a petition to the appeals board with clear and concise reasons supporting the challenge of the judge’s decision. Articulating why a claimant believes a judge was incorrect can be difficult, however a local attorney could help with filing the appeals petition after a workers’ compensation denial.
Filing a Worksite Injury Claim Against a Third-Party
Workers are generally barred from suing their employer for damages related to an on-the-job injury, and that prohibition extends to co-workers if the colleagues’ actions led to the injury. However, there is no rule against an injured employee bringing a claim for damages against others whose negligence might have contributed to the worker’s injury.
For example, if the actions of an independent contractor were a factor in the worker’s injury, the worker could bring a claim for damages against them. Similarly, if the worker were injured in a motor vehicle accident while on the job, the employee could bring a suit against the negligent driver. If a defective product caused the accident that led to the injury, the worker could sue the part’s manufacturer.
A savvy employment attorney in Buck’s County could evaluate the circumstances of an accident to determine whether third-party negligence might be a factor. If so, they could advise an injured worker about whether the situation merits pursuing a third-party claim.
Damages Available in Third-Party Claims
An advantage of pursuing a third-party claim is that more compensation is often available to the injured employee through a negligence action than is available through a worker’s compensation action.
For example, worker’s compensation pays only a portion of a worker’s wages when the worker is unable to work due to injury, and even those limited benefits cease after a set period of time. Damages in a negligence action could reimburse a worker for all the lost wages that worker’s compensation payments did not cover.
Most importantly, a third-party negligence suit offers the employee the opportunity to collect non-economic damages. These provide compensation for the intangible effects of an injury such as physical pain, humiliation, decreased enjoyment of life, and disfigurement. A seasoned local lawyer could craft a plea for non-economic damages that offers appropriate restitution for the diminishment of the worker’s quality of life due to their injury.
A worker seeking damages through a third-party claim must prove the defendant’s negligence. Proving negligence requires the injured worker to show that the defendant did not exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person would have under the same circumstances.
It is common for there to be multiple instances of negligence that converge to cause an accident. Seeking damages from a negligent defendant could be complicated if the worker was also negligent. If a plaintiff bears more than 50 percent of the responsibility for an accident, Pennsylvania law prevents them from collecting damages from other negligent parties.
A plaintiff who is not primarily responsible for an accident could still collect damages from other negligent parties. However, a judge will subtract a percentage of the damages awarded to reflect the plaintiff’s degree of blame.
Contact a Bucks County Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you were hurt while on the job, you should contact a Bucks County workers’ compensation lawyer to learn more about the legal process and obtain recovery for your harm. In some workplaces, employees are discouraged from filing claims despite their entitlement under the law. Do not be discouraged by these practices. You are entitled to legal restitution after a worksite injury. If you have questions, call now for more information.