Pittsburgh Workplace Injury Attorneys
If you suffer an injury while on the job, it can turn your whole life upside down. You may not be able to return to work while you undergo treatment, and you and your family may worry about your financial future.
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act requires your employer to provide you with insurance coverage meant to cover your expenses after a workplace injury or in the event you are diagnosed with an occupational disease. But taking all the steps necessary to receive your full benefits, unfortunately, can be complicated and overwhelming, particularly when you’re dealing with health issues at the same time.
The Pittsburgh workplace injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana have decades of experience dealing with worker injury cases and can help make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Give our experienced Pittsburgh workers’ compensation attorneys a call today.
Workplace Fatalities in Pennsylvania
In 2019, there were 154 fatal work injuries in Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was lower than the number of work-related fatalities the year before but is still an unacceptable number.
Of those fatalities, 62 resulted from transportation incidents and 32 from contact with objects and equipment. These two major categories accounted for 61 percent of all workplace fatalities in the state. And deaths from transportation incidents were actually up for the year. Exposure to harmful substances and environments was the third-most frequent fatal work event (22 fatalities), while violence and injuries by persons and animals resulted in 21 deaths.
The private construction industry and private transportation and warehousing industry had the highest number of fatalities. Workers 55 and older accounted for 42 percent of the state’s work-related fatalities in 2019, compared to 38 percent of fatalities nationwide.
What Benefits Am I Entitled To Through Workers’ Compensation?
It’s important to know that when it comes to workers’ compensation, it doesn’t matter who was at fault for the injury. Even if you think you may have been partially or wholly responsible for the accident, you are still eligible for benefits. Of course, if the accident was your employer’s fault or the fault of another employee, you are eligible for benefits as well.
In general, workers’ compensation provides four basic types of benefits:
- Medical care: Your employer’s insurance must pay for your medical treatments and therapies to help you recover from a work-related injury or illness. These include services rendered by health care providers, surgical and medical services, hospital treatment, prescription medicine and supplies, and orthopedic appliances and supplies.
- Temporary disability benefits: If your injury prevents you from returning to work for a while, your employer’s insurance will cover your lost wages.
- Permanent disability benefits: If you are unable to recover well enough from your injury to return to your old job, your employer’s insurance will provide payments to you on an ongoing basis. These amount to about two-thirds of your salary paid for the duration of the disability.
- Death benefits: If you die as a result of a workplace injury or disease, your employer’s insurance will provide payments to your spouse, children, or other dependents.
Depending on the severity of your injury, you may also be eligible for other benefits, including social security disability and unemployment. Your Pittsburgh workplace injury lawyer can help you explore all avenues of compensation.
How Much Money Will I Get from a Workplace Injury Claim?
Workers’ compensation insurance will typically pay about two-thirds of your regular income for lost wages. This benefit usually kicks in once you’ve lost at least seven days of work. If you miss less than that, you may not receive benefits for lost wages.
In addition, the insurance company will pay all your medical bills and any related treatments your doctor prescribes, including therapy and medications. Other benefits such as temporary or permanent disability are calculated on an individual basis.
What Do I Do After a Workplace Injury?
If you have suffered an injury on the job or have been recently diagnosed with an occupational illness, there are certain steps you must take to be able to recover all your damages from workers’ compensation insurance.
1. Get Medical Attention
Particularly if your injury is severe, your priority will be to get medical treatment. But even if you have what you think is a minor injury, this step is important. Sometimes what seems to be a minor injury can become more serious over time, and it’s important to your claim to have medical reports.
Keep in mind that according to state law, you must go to a company-approved doctor for at least the first 90 days after the injury. Your employer should have a list of available physicians that you can choose from.
2. Report the Injury to Your Employer
This step may come first if your injury isn’t too serious. Regardless, it’s important to do this as soon as you can.
Some workers are hesitant to say anything for fear of being seen as a complainer. Yet even minor injuries can develop into more serious ones. Back, neck, knee, and arm pain can become chronic and debilitative, and repetitive injuries are known to worsen over time. If you don’t report the injury when it happens, you could hurt your ability to recover damages down the road.
Some workers also hesitate to report an injury for fear of retaliation. It is against the law, however, to retaliate against an employee for reporting an injury and/or accident. You deserve compensation so don’t hesitate to start the process.
The PA Workers’ Compensation Act gives you three weeks to complete this step. Start by telling your immediate supervisor or human resources representative about your injury, then follow up by notifying them in writing. Keep copies of everything you file.
Once you notify your employer of the injury, it’s up to them to file a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf. Still, it’s best to follow up to make sure that the claim was filed and to get a copy of it.
3. Keep Notes
It can help to gather evidence that will support your case. Take pictures of the job accident scene if you can, as well as your injuries. Keep notes of what you say when you report the injury and everything your employer does in response. If there are witnesses, get their contact information in case they are needed later on.
4. Contact Your Workplace Injury Attorney
You have the option to file a workers’ compensation claim on your own, but it’s a good idea to consult with a workplace injury attorney first. We have years of experience handling workers’ compensation claims and can help you determine which benefits you may be entitled to. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to be well informed.
Particularly if you were hurt on the job because of someone else’s negligence, it’s important to contact an attorney to be aware of all of your rights. We will launch a thorough investigation into your case to uncover every detail, including examining the workplace environment and checking if the machinery was working correctly, whether the supervisors were doing their jobs, whether you had access to the appropriate safety equipment, and more.
No matter what industry you’re in, we will take all the steps necessary to determine how much your case is worth and to get you the compensation you deserve.
5. Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
You should keep all of your doctor’s appointments and follow your doctor’s instructions as to any therapy you may need, medications you should take, and rest periods you should follow. Don’t give the insurance company any reason to believe that you are not as injured as you say you are.
What if the Insurance Company Denies My Claim?
If the insurance company denies your claim, contact a workplace injury lawyer. We can help gather all the information needed to file an appeal to get the decision overturned so that you can receive the benefits you’re entitled to.
We’ll review the prior actions taken by the workers’ compensation insurance company and the insurance company doctors, gather whatever evidence is available including reports and medical records, and represent you at your workers’ compensation hearings. With us by your side, you’ll stand a much better chance of winning your appeal.
Help—I’m Losing My Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Sometimes workers who have received benefits for an extended period may suddenly receive a letter from the insurance company stating that it intends to modify, suspend, or terminate these benefits.
If you get one of these letters, it can be a frightening experience. You likely rely on these payments to live, and losing them can be devastating.
Such a letter may be sent for a variety of reasons. Your employer has the right starting two months after you begin collecting workers’ compensation benefits to require you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). A company doctor examines you to determine whether you are well enough to return to work full-time or on a part-time, reduced-capacity basis. If so, your employer could file a petition to modify or stop your benefits.
You can try to challenge the notice yourself, but it’s always better to have an experienced workplace injury attorney on your side. The process is not a simple one. It starts with you filling out the “employee challenge” portion of the notice, but then you must gather more evidence (medical records, images, etc.), attend court hearings, and conduct depositions from your treating physicians.
Keep in mind that the insurance company has lawyers on their side. If you go up against them without your own representation, you will be at a disadvantage. Our workplace injury attorneys understand how these insurance companies work, and we can help you get around the bureaucracy to resolve your case in your favor.
Should I Consider a Lump-Sum Payment?
Employees who were injured on the job and have received benefits for four months or longer may be eligible for a lump-sum settlement under Pennsylvania law. This type of settlement provides you with a one-time payment rather than the typical weekly payments. It cannot be more than your weekly workers’ compensation benefits multiplied by 500 weeks.
This option may be a good one for you if:
- You are tired of dealing with workers’ compensation and want to move on.
- You have stopped making progress in your recovery, and it looks like you probably won’t make any further progress.
There are potential drawbacks, however.
- Once you receive a lump-sum payment, that’s it. You can’t go back for more money.
- The insurance company is likely to offer less in a lump-sum payment than you would get if you stuck to weekly payments.
- Any future medical care you need will not be covered by your workers’ compensation benefits.
That means that taking a lump-sum payment is probably not a good idea for you if you expect that your injury may get worse or cause additional related conditions that will require medical treatment. It’s also best avoided if it looks like you will not be able to return to work for a long time.
When You May Have a Personal Injury Claim
In addition to your workers’ compensation claim, you may also have a Pittsburgh personal injury claim, depending on what happened in the accident.
Workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania bars you from filing a lawsuit against your employer, but if a third party was involved in causing your accident, you may have a case against them. Alternatively, perhaps you were injured because of faulty equipment. In that case, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the equipment manufacturer.
Or perhaps you were injured because of a careless contractor who doesn’t work for your company. In that case, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against that person or the company he or she works for.
A successful personal injury claim provides you with additional compensation over and above your workers’ compensation benefits. Talk to your workplace injury attorney to see if you may qualify.
Common Types of Workplace Injuries
Although there are a wide variety of injuries and illnesses that may occur because of your work, below are some of the most common:
- Head and brain injuries
- Back, neck, and spine injuries
- Paraplegia and quadriplegia
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Illnesses from exposure to substances
- Broken bones
- Strains from overexertion
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Cuts and lacerations
- Vision and hearing damage
- Wrongful Death
Pittsburgh Workplace Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured at work, contact our workplace injury attorneys for help. We can assist in filing your initial claim, appealing a denied claim, appealing modified or halted benefits, or filing a third-party personal injury claim. We invite you to call today at 888-480-1123.