If you’re separated, divorced, or widowed, you may be working hard to get your life back on track. The last thing you need is to suffer a work-related injury, worry about your job security, or deal with the confusing legal system.
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation is designed to help injured workers. If you are ever hurt on the job, you need to know what to expect.
After a Work Injury…
If you’re hurt on the job, report your injury to your supervisor immediately, even if you don’t think the injury is serious. Many workers sustain injuries that may be more serious than they first appear.
Once you report your injury, your supervisor should file a “First Report of Occupational Injury.” The insurance company has 21 days to accept or deny your work injury.
If your employer’s insurance company accepts your work injury, 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 work injury, you will receive a “Notice of Compensation Denial” in the mail, and you’ll need to file a claim petition.
The Low-Down on Independent Medical Exams
Many large employers have company doctors. If your employer has a panel of physicians posted at your workplace, you must see one of those doctors for the first 90 days.
Afterward, you can choose your own medical professional. However, your employer can request that you see a company doctor every six months. These visits are called Independent Medical Exams, or IMEs.
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.
Medical Expenses and Lost Wages
The most common workers’ compensation benefits are payments for medical expenses and lost wages.
Medical expense payments cover doctor appointments, surgeries and hospital visits, medications, medical supplies, etc. 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 for the first seven days you missed. There are two types of compensation for lost wages: Total Disability and Partial Disability. The amount you can receive depends on the severity of your work injury.
There are other types of workers’ compensation. An attorney can help you determine which benefits are right for you, and which will provide you with the most financial security.
The Clock is Ticking
If you were injured on the job, you must act quickly. The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system is meant to help protect your rights and your financial security while you recover, but there are time limits.
You have 120 days to tell your employer about an injury or illness. If you didn’t know you had an injury or illness, you have 120 days to notify your employer from the time you discovered that your injury or illness is work-related. After that point, your employer doesn’t have to pay you workers’ compensation benefits.
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 workers’ compensation.
Divorced, Separated, or Widowed and Injured at Work? Don’t Let the System Get the Best of You
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 or consider the Family Medical Leave Act.
Suffering an injury on the job can be very stressful for someone who is widowed, divorced, or separated. But, by understanding your rights as an injured worker and learning to navigate the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system, you can help give yourself a little peace of mind as you recover.
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.