Every day, workers across Pennsylvania are injured in work related accidents. The three most common types of work injury accidents are:
- fall accidents (slip, trip and falls or falls from heights),
- machinery/product accidents (forklift accident), and
- auto accidents.
Most workers and employees who are injured in work related accidents do not suffer any serious or major injuries. For example, a worker who has a fall down accident at work may sprain an ankle and be back at work the next day.
However, sometimes, a work accident occurs and causes major, catastrophic injuries. For example, nearly 10 years ago, Paul Bucci, one of the firm’s work accident injury lawyers, helped litigate the Tropicana garage collapse case, one of the largest construction accident cases in U.S. history. It involved the collapse of a 10 story casino garage during its construction. The damages from the construction accident were severe. Dozens of workers were injured, and four workers lost their lives. These types of major work accidents often result in temporary or permanent disability, i.e., the inability to return to work.
In Pennsylvania, an employee who is injured while performing work duties has certain legal rights, especially when the injuries result in the inability to work. Injured workers may be able to make workers’ compensation claims as well as tort or negligence claims.
This article will discuss how injured workers in Pennsylvania make claims for wage loss after a work related accident. Part 1 below discusses workers’ compensation in PA, and part 2 explains tort/negligence claims in the context of work accidents.
Workers’ Compensation Claims for Lost Wages
Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws, practically every employer in this state is required to provide workers’ compensation benefits for employees. Benefits are usually available for medical treatment and lost wages. In cases of catastrophic injuries like loss of a limb or blindness, an injured worker can obtain special benefits via a workers’ comp claim.
Workers’ compensation benefits are generally available without regard to fault. A work accident may be the sole fault of the worker who can still file a claim for benefits. There are some exceptions, such as if the worker was using illegal drugs at the time of the accident.
Workers’ compensation payments for lost wages are known as indemnity payments. The amount of indemnity payments an injured worker can receive is set by law every year. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry sets a schedule for indemnity payments which contains a minimum and maximum indemnity amount, based on a worker’s average weekly wage.
However, injured workers will receive only a percentage of their average weekly wages. The system is designed to get injured workers back to work as soon as possible. This is the reason workers only receive a percentage as opposed to 100% of their weekly wages.
Time Limitation for Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Claims for Lost Pay
Injured workers are often completely misinformed about the timelines to report a work accident in order to preserve the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law employs a two tier notice requirement. You are initially required to report a work accident to your employer within 21 days of the accident. If you fail to do so, you may be barred from making a workers’ compensation claim. The second deadline requires you to notify your employer no later than 120 days after the accident.
Laffey, Bucci & Kent is a Philadelphia based law firm with offices throughout PA and NJ. Our lawyers specialize in work accident injury cases. Please call the firm for more information. Click To Call
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