If you have endured injuries in a work-related accident, you may be eligible for compensation. The worker’s compensation process can be difficult to understand and protecting your rights from the outset is imperative. A Montgomery County worker’s compensation lawyer could help you seek benefits in the aftermath of a work accident and provide guidance at each phase of the claims process.
If you have just been injured and have questions about getting a case started, an experienced injury attorney at our firm could review your potential options and help you file a claim for compensation.
Common Injuries to Employees
Worker’s compensation claims can cover a wide range of injuries. However, some of the most common ones include spinal cord injuries, paralysis, knee injuries, neck trauma, and loss of a limb. Head trauma, chemical burns, injuries sustained due to a falling object, machine injuries, and tripping injuries could also give rise to a worker’s compensation case.
In addition, chronic injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome may allow for workers’ compensation claims if they stem directly from repetitive motions performed during work, as can chronic disease caused by conditions a worker was exposed to in the course of their employment. A local workers’ compensation attorney could go over an individual employee’s circumstances and determine whether they may be eligible to seek benefits.
When Is a Worker Eligible to Seek Workers’ Comp Benefits?
As per 77 Pennsylvania Statutes §431, virtually all employers in the state are required to purchase and maintain workers’ compensation insurance for all their part-time and full-time employees, with rare exceptions for contracts, volunteers, and certain workers in industries like agriculture and domestic service. Assuming their employer offers workers’ compensation coverage, an employee is eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits from their first day of employment for any job-related injury or illness they experience.
However, there are a few situations in which a worker may not be eligible for workers’ comp benefits even though their injury occurred while they were on the clock. Most notably, any employee who gets hurt while engaging in horseplay or because they were intoxicated by drugs or alcohol while working typically does not have valid grounds for a workers’ comp claim. Injuries that occur during the commute to or from work usually are not covered either, although this is not the case in every situation.
Deadline to File a Civil Claim in Montgomery County
Pennsylvania law requires injured workers to notify their employer within 21 days of the date of the incident. If more than 120 days transpire and an employee fails to tell their employer that they have been injured, they may no longer be eligible for benefits.
While the filing window for a worker to tell an employer that they have been injured is fairly short, an employee has up to three years from the date of the injury to submit a worker’s compensation claim for benefits. A Montgomery County attorney could help an injured worker better understand the deadline applicable to their claim and help them file for employee compensation within the specified time limits.
Available Benefits in a Worker’s Compensation Claim
There are a variety of benefits that could be available in a successful Montgomery County worker’s compensation claim. An injured employee could receive compensation for their medical costs, such as physical therapy, prescriptions, and hospital stays.
If the employee is unable to return to their complete job duties for a short-term period, they can receive temporary partial disability benefits. When an employee’s injuries are so severe that they render the person unable to perform any work, they can receive full disability. If an employee dies due to their injury or as the result of hazards they were exposed to while on the job, the employee’s family could receive death benefits if they passed away within 300 weeks of the incident.
It should be noted that while an employee cannot file a lawsuit against their employer for a worker’s compensation related claim, they can pursue civil action if a third party contributed to their injury, such as a vendor or contractor. A worker’s compensation lawyer in the area could investigate the circumstances that led to someone’s injuries to determine whether non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, and future lost earnings may be available.
Filing a Claim Against a Third-Party
Depending on the facts of your workplace accident, there may be a possibility of having a third-party case, in addition to your workers compensation case. A worksite injury lawyer can look at the accident and determine whether there is a viable case to bring if someone else is at fault for the accident. For example, if a worker who is driving as part of their employment is involved in a car accident which is the fault of the other driver, this can be a viable third-party case to recover for their injuries.
A thorough investigation of the work accident and injury is needed in each case to determine if an employee has a chance for more compensation. Dedicated counsel can look into each and every facet of a workplace incident to make sure the worker’s rights are well protected.
Why Might a Workers’ Comp Claim Be Rejected?
Unfortunately, filing a workers’ compensation claim is not guaranteed to lead to benefits in every situation. Aside from the scenarios noted above in which a worker does not have grounds to pursue workers’ comp benefits, these claims are sometimes rejected because claimants fail to provide enough information about how their injury occurred and what effects it had on them.
In other situations, claim denials happen because a worker’s employer or insurance provider does not believe that the injury or illness at the center of a claim is actually work-related. They may argue that the condition existed before a workplace accident, that it primarily stemmed from circumstances unrelated to work, or that the claimant provided incorrect information about how and when the incident occurred. Even if a claim is accepted, disputes over the nature and severity of an injury or illness may lead to a claimant receiving an insufficient settlement offer relative to their short-term and long-term damages.
Appealing a Claim Denial or Insufficient Benefits
Regardless of why a claim was unsuccessful, it is crucial to understand that a claim denial is not the end of the road. Workers who have their claims for workers’ compensation rejected have the right to appeal that decision to the state Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board with help from a qualified Montgomery County lawyer.
This process begins with an initial filing to the Board, which must be done within 20 days of when a judge passes down an unsatisfactory verdict regarding a workers’ comp claim. Following that, the Board will schedule a hearing for legal counsel from both sides to argue whether the previous decision adhered to proper legal procedures and precedent.
If the Appeals Board upholds the judge’s prior ruling, claimants have 30 days to appeal that decision to the Commonwealth Court, where a panel of three judges may choose to affirm or reject the ruling from the Appeals Board. In extremely rare circumstances, an unfavorable decision from the Commonwealth Court may be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but generally the workers’ comp appeals process ends here.
A Montgomery County Worker’s Compensation Attorney Could Help
If you were injured while on the job, you could be entitled to compensation. It is important to make sure you get your claim filed on time, or else you could lose your right to worker’s compensation benefits. An experienced attorney could answer your legal questions and help you pursue the maximum benefits owed to you. Schedule your confidential case consultation with a Montgomery County worker’s compensation lawyer today.