By Dennis Liotta, Esq.
If you’re a Baby Boomer, you may be nearing retirement age. If you’re still working and are injured on the job, statistics show that the older you get, the longer it takes you to recover from serious injuries.
You’re likely planning for the future and getting your finances in order for retirement, so it’s especially important to understand the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system.
Hurt at Work? Report the Accident
If you’re hurt on the job, immediately report your injury to your supervisor, even if you don’t think the injury is serious. Your injury could turn out to be much more severe than it may appear. Once you report your injury, your supervisor should file a “First Report of Occupational Injury.” The insurance company then has 21 days to accept or deny your work injury claim.
If your employer’s insurance company accepts your work injury claim, you will start to receive Workers’ Compensation payments. You may receive a “Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable,” which allows the insurance company to pay your lost wages and medical benefits for up to 90 days while they investigate your claim. If the insurance company denies your claim, you will receive a “Notice of Compensation Denial” in the mail. At that point, you’ll need to file a Claim Petition.
The Low-Down on Medical Treatment
Many large employers have company doctors. If your employer has a panel of physicians posted at your workplace, you must be treated by those doctors for the first 90 days for reimbursement. After the 90-day period, you can choose your own medical professional. However, your employer can request that you see a company doctor every six months for an Independent Medical Exam.
If the doctor says you have recovered but you don’t return to work, your employer will likely file a “Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend” your Workers’ Compensation benefits, and you’ll need to attend a hearing before a Workers’ Compensation judge to determine whether your benefits can continue.
Medical Expenses and Lost Wages
The most common Workers’ Compensation benefits are payments for medical expenses and lost wages. Your employer’s insurance company should cover your medical expenses even if they haven’t paid you for your lost wages.
You must be off work and under a doctor’s care for at least 14 work days to be eligible to receive Lost Wages benefits for the first seven days you missed. The amount you can receive depends on the severity of your work injury.
The Clock is Ticking, Boomers
If you were injured on the job, time is critical. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system is meant to help protect your legal rights as an employee and your finances, but there are time limits.
You have 120 days to tell your employer about an injury or illness. Additionally, you have three years from the day you were injured (or the date you became aware of an illness or injury) to file a Claim Petition for Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation.
As a Boomer, you may have problems with your employer if you’re injured on the job. The insurance company may not want to pay your medical expenses or pay lost wages.
If you’re having problems with your employer or your employer’s insurance company and are worried about your financial security, you may also want to look into other options while you’re off work. You may want to use any vacation time you have or consider the Family Medical Leave Act, which enables you to take unpaid time off work, but protects your employment status.
Workplace Injuries and Looking Toward the Future
Suffering an injury on the job can be stressful, especially for Boomers. You may worry about your job security or wonder if you’ll recover fully. While you can’t always prevent a work injury or predict how your employer will react to you being hurt on the job, you can protect your rights as an injured worker by contacting an experienced attorney. Learning to navigate the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system can give you peace of mind as you look toward the future.
Attorney Dennis Liotta, a partner at the law firm of Edgar Snyder & Associates and manager of the Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability departments, has over 20 years of experience helping injured workers get the Workers’ Compensation benefits they deserve. For a comprehensive overview of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system, download a free guide at: http://www.edgarsnyder.com/workers-comp-guide.