By Jonathan Young  

If you are injured on the job or sustain a work-related illness, you have recourse.

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act mandates that insurance benefits be paid for your medical expenses.  Moreover, if you are unable to work, you are compensated for any wage loss due to your injury.  While Workers’ Compensation insurance is mandated by the state, the benefits are paid by private insurance companies. Employers must provide Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage for all of their employees. 

The first thing you should do following an injury in the workplace is to report the injury to your employer or supervisor immediately. You must inform your employer that you have been injured in the course of your employment and notify them of the circumstances. Failure to notify your employer in a timely fashion can result in delay or denial of Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Remember, injuries can be physical or psychological. Injuries can be open and apparent, the result of repetitive activities with no specific date of injury, or an occupational disease as a result of certain exposures in the workplace.

 Once you have reported your claim, the employer may choose to either accept or deny the claim. It is crucial to note that payment of medical benefits by your employer does not mean that your claim has been accepted.  If your claim is denied, you have a right to file a Claim Petition and request a hearing before a Workers’ Compensation Judge. 

Besides paying for medical expenses, Workers’ Compensation benefits may also cover wage loss. Wage loss benefits are paid equal to approximately two-thirds (2/3) of the average weekly wage.

It is essential that you retain an attorney as soon as you believe you have a potential Workers’ Compensation injury to safeguard your rights. The Workers’ Compensation insurance companies have attorneys representing them at all stages of the process.  To be on equal footing, you must have an attorney to represent your rights as an injured worker.  Workers’ Compensation attorneys usually don’t charge upfront and the initial consultation is free.