Getting hurt at work can quickly turn your life upside down, catapulting you into a confusing legal system. This quick guide will cover some of the most common misconceptions injured Pennsylvania workers have when it comes to their benefits.
My Workers' Compensation benefits start the same day I get hurt at work.
PA workers aren't eligible to start collecting wage loss benefits under Workers' Compensation until they've been out of work for 8 days. If you're out of work 14 days or longer, you're eligible for retroactive benefits back to the first day you were out of work from the injury.
I can treat with my normal doctors immediately after my work injury.
Injured workers are required to get treatment for their work injury from specific healthcare providers that are chosen by the employer for the first 90 days after a work injury. These are more commonly known as "panel doctors," and the employer should have a list of them readily available for employees. Failure to treat with the panel providers can potentially result in the insurance company refusing to pay for the treatment.
My employer caused my injury, so I can sue them.
Unfortunately, even if your employer was at fault in causing your work injury, you cannot sue over the incident. PA has a "no fault" workers' compensation law, which limits employees to collecting wage loss and medical benefits. It also means that employees cannot sue for other damages, such as for the pain and suffering caused by the incident.
I was at fault and caused my own work injury, so I can't get workers' compensation benefits.
Pennsylvania's no fault workers' compensation law means that you can still collect wage loss and medical benefits, even if you caused your own injury. That means you don't have to worry about the employer pointing the finger at you in order to justify denying you benefits. The bottom line is that if you were hurt on the job, you can be eligible for benefits, no matter who caused the injury.
My employer has to hold my job for me if I get injured at work.
Employers do not have to keep your job just because you were hurt at work. PA is an "at will" employment state, which means employers have a lot of leeway to fire workers. The state Workers' Compensation law offers some protections, but there is nothing in the law that requires an employer to hold your old job for you until you're recovered. Getting terminated doesn't mean your workers' compensation benefits automatically cut off, but it's important to understand that a work injury doesn't create some safe bubble that prevents you from getting fired, laid off, or otherwise terminated.
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