What You Should Know

Workers’ Compensation is a statutory benefit designed to ensure that Employees who are injured in the course and scope of their employment receive compensation for lost wages and medical care. Unlike some other causes of action, there is no allowance for a recovery of pain and suffering or collateral damages.

However, if the Employer/Insurance carrier violates the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, they can be assessed for Penalties. Often, WC claims resolve when the injured worker recovers and returns to work. However, what if there is no job to return to? What if the injured worker is physically unable to return to work? These cases usually end in settlement.

If you have been injured at work or in the course of your employment, call me. I can help to ensure that you understand your rights and that you receive all the money and benefits to which you are entitled under the law.

The duration of Workers’ Compensation Benefits is dependent on your “disability status”. If you are “totally disabled” and are not earning income from any source, your benefits can continue indefinitely. However, it is rarely this simple. Eventually, an individual receiving benefits may return to work with a loss of earnings or may receive an administrative or judicial determination that they are only “partially disabled”.

Once this happens, your benefits may be limited to 500 weeks. This is just under ten years. While this may seem like a long time, a 500 week period can expire quickly and a determination that a person is only “partially disabled” can decrease the eventual settlement value of your case.

There are some precautionary steps you can take. However, these steps vary based on the facts of each particular case and can not be effectively described in broad terms. If you have any questions about your rights, please feel free to call for a free initial consultation.

If a claim is denied, the next step is to file a Claim Petition with Harrisburg. Once filed, the Bureau office in Harrisburg will assign the case to a Judge. The Judge will then send out a hearing notice and litigation begins.

The length of time it takes to fully litigate a Claim Petition varies widely depending on the complexity of the case, the amount of evidence that must be collected, and the number of issues in dispute in your case. The amount of time is also influenced by the hearing procedures of the Judge you are assigned. In general, it takes at least eight months to fully litigate a Claim Petition in Delaware County. It may take longer on occasion. If you want to file a Claim and you are not sure how to proceed, please feel free to contact me.

“I.M.E.” stands for Independent Medical Examination. This is a physical examination performed at the request of the insurance company by a doctor chosen by the insurance company. While the title suggests that the doctor performing the examination will be impartial, it is important to remember who selected and pays the doctor: the insurance company.

An I.M.E. should not be confused with treatment provided by a “panel approved” or company selected doctor. Even though you may be treating with a company-approved or company-selected doctor, the insurance company may still be entitled to an I.M.E. Also, invasive testing, such as EMG’s (nerve test with needles) or FCE’s (Functional Capacity Evaluations) are not examinations and you may not have to attend them if requested by the insurance company.

If you suffered multiple injuries in your work accident, the insurance company may be entitled to multiple I.M.E’s. If you are unsure whether you should attend a medical appointment scheduled by the insurance company, call an attorney immediately. As always, the individual facts of each case will determine whether you must attend.

The advice offered above is general in nature and may not be applicable to every case. Consultation with an attorney is highly recommended. Reliance on this advice does not represent the formation of an attorney-client relationship in the absence of a fee agreement with Mr. Hillsberg.

© 2016 The Law Offices of Geoffrey Hillsberg

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