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Worksite Accidents

Work-Related Accidents: Your Rights

 

What happens if you are injured on the job? Who is responsible for your medical bills, your lost wages, your pain and suffering, the loss of the ability to return to work, or, in the most severe case, the loss of life? That is a very complex question that sometimes requires a very complicated answer. Your Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer at Silverman & Fodera will try to work with you to make the answer simple.

Work-related accidents due to your employer's fault

 

In the majority of states, injured workers may seek compensation from their employer pursuant to that state's Workers' Compensation Act. The other option would be a civil suit, but most states make employers immune from such suits, forcing the worker to go through the Workers' Compensation system. However, in some Pennsylvania personal injury cases, some jurisdictions allow the worker to choose whether to seek relief under the Workers' Compensation Act or file a civil suit in the presence of certain circumstances (for example, if the employer violated the Workers' Compensation Act in some manner).

In other jurisdictions there is no Workers' Compensation Act and the only relief given is through a civil suit. For federal employees, no matter what state they are in, federal law, not state law, governs their work injuries.

An injured worker, in most jurisdictions, is ONLY entitled to lost wages and payment of medical treatment. Pain and suffering is not compensable if you are pursuing your employer in most cases.

A majority of jurisdictions have a salary scale which determines how much an injured worker will be awarded for his lost wages. These calculations are very complex. Most employers or insurance companies do their own calculations and these figures should always be checked and questioned by the Pennsylvania personal injury attorney of the injured worker.

Recently, there has been Workers' Compensation reform in some jurisdictions. An experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney can help you take recent reforms into consideration.

Most states require the employer to prominently display, at the work place, or distribute materials at the time of hiring, as to the governing law in that jurisdiction concerning work injuries.

Please note that, in some jurisdictions, it is required that the injured worker first seek treatment with the employer's treatment provider. In these instances, a list of acceptable doctors or facilities should also be displayed prominently at the work place. Be careful: should the employee choose not to seek treatment with the employer's provider, the employee may be responsible for the medical costs. Private medical insurance companies have been known to refuse coverage if the employee does not go to the employer's provider. Private medical insurance companies tend not to be responsible for covering treatment of a work injury. The injured worker may become ultimately responsible for his medical costs if the rules are not followed properly.

The majority of states require prompt notice of the employee's injury be given to the employer. This may be accomplished by giving notice to your supervisor or manager. In some states, this notice may have to be in writing, but oral notice is acceptable in most jurisdictions. Prompt notice varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In Pennsylvania, an employee has three years to report a work injury. Some jurisdictions give significantly less time to report a work injury. Once the time period of notice has lapsed, an injured worker may be permanently barred from receiving compensation for his work injury.

Most importantly, an injured worker must be wary of the type of conduct which can result in the cancellation of his workers' compensation. For example, an injured worker in Pennsylvania must never act in a way that is interpreted as his refusal to do a job within his medical restrictions as a result of the work injury. Such action will expose him to the possibility of having his worker's compensation payments stopped, even if he cannot return to his pre-injury position due to his work injury.

Is the work-related injury due to someone else's fault?

 

Most importantly, an injured worker must be wary of the type of conduct which can result in the cancellation of his workers' compensation. For example, an injured worker in Pennsylvania must never act in a way that is interpreted as his refusal to do a job within his medical restrictions as a result of the work injury. Such action will expose him to the possibility of having his worker's compensation payments stopped, even if he cannot return to his pre-injury position due to his work injury. We urge you to consult with a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer from our office to help you navigate the legal minefield of personal injury law.

Relevant Links

This informational piece was prepared by Silverman & Fodera. If you would like more information on this topic, call us at (800) 220-LAW1, or use the "Do I Have A Case?" link on this web site.