Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Serving Pennsylvania & Delaware
What You Want to Know About Workers’ Compensation
Important Information When You Have Been Injured at Work
While the Industrial Revolution brought untold advances to civilization, allowing a standard of living previously unimaginable, it also changed the way that many people work, subjecting them to the dangers that accompany power equipment and machinery, and forcing many to work in proximity to many other people. As a result, work-related injury and illness escalated to unprecedented levels. Concerned that the sheer volume of work-based personal injury claims would bankrupt most companies and spell the end of free market capitalism, legislators pushed through reforms, based on models first established in Germany, that gave workers rights to benefits in exchange for an agreement to limit the liability of their employers. These reforms are what are now known as workers’ compensation statutes.
How Worker’s Compensation Systems Function
Though there are minor differences in the workers’ compensation laws of the 50 states, most provisions are the same. The statute identifies what workers qualify for workers’ compensation. Employers who have qualified workers must either purchase workers’ compensation insurance, or must agree to be “self-insured”. To be “self-insured” means that the employer will pay all workers’ compensation claims directly, rather than having them paid by an insurance company.
Under the workers’ compensation system, when you are injured on the job, you file a claim for benefits through the workers’ compensation system. The laws set forth specific amounts that you will be paid, based on the type of injury you have suffered. For example, if you have a broken arm, you will be entitled to a specific amount of compensation for a specific period of time. The workers’ compensation statutes are extremely detailed, identifying all potential types of injuries.
A key component to the workers’ compensation system is that it provides the only means of recovery for injuries caused by the negligence or carelessness of your employer or a co-worker. You cannot file a lawsuit in court for injuries sustained at work, unless the injuries are caused by a third party (neither your employer nor a co-employee).
Most workers’ compensation statutes provide benefits for lost wages and income, as well as reimbursement of medical expenses. In some states, additional benefits may be available, such as job retraining.
The limits set by the workers’ compensation laws can be circumvented in some situations. If an employer intentionally seeks to harm a worker, or engages in criminal acts that lead to injury, the worker may be able to seek damages outside of the workers’ compensation system.
When you have been injured at work, the first thing you typically want to do is seek medical treatment for your injury. You should also notify your employer as soon as possible. Your employer may require that you visit a company designated doctor for an assessment, but you will also have the right to see your own physician.
Many workers’ compensation claims are initially denied. It is always a wise decision to seek counsel from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. For an appointment, contact Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie and Seelaus, LLP online or call our office at 610-565-4055.