Accidents While at Work
Accidents While at Work: The Relationship Between Personal Injury Claims, Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation
Were you in involved in an accident while working and sustained injuries, wage loss and medical bills as a result of someone else’s negligence? If so you may have multiple issues to consider to protect yourself and to make ends meet. Any time you are hurt on the job, you need to notify your employer. This should be done immediately, however, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act you have up to 120 days from the date of the injury in which to provide notice to your employer. Once you put the employer on notice of a Pennsylvania work related injury the employer is required under the law to notify you of whether they are accepting your injury as a workers compensation claim or rejecting it within 21 days of you providing notice. If an employer tries to convince you to collect Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation benefits in lieu of Pennsylvania Workers Compensation benefits don’t fall for that. You in fact may be able to collect both and normally Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits will pay you more than Unemployment Compensation Benefits. However to preserve your rights to have your medical bills paid and to receive workers compensation on top of unemployment compensation, you need to file a claim with the Bureau of Workers Compensation.
If you are receiving Pennsylvania Workers Compensation benefits, you may also be able to pursue a third party personal injury action against the individual who caused your injuries by making a claim for negligence against that third party and possibly their employer. You have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit to toll the statute of limitations on a third party case. Remember, if you receive Pennsylvania Workers Compensation wage loss benefits for the time that you missed work as a result of someone else’s negligence, you will most likely only be collecting 2/3 of your average weekly wage and therefore you will not be made whole for your losses. In a personal injury action you can make a claim for the full amount of your lost wages as well as your medical bills, out of pocket expenses, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and a host of other damages.
If you need money immediately and are getting the run around from the Pennsylvania workers compensation insurance carrier, you may need to file a claim for Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation. Be careful however, because you need to be “able and available” for “suitable work” in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits. If your doctor says that you are completely unable to work you will not be eligible for benefits. In most cases, however, a “light duty” release from your doctor will be sufficient for you to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
The interplay between Pennsylvania Workers Compensation, personal injury claims and Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation can be extremely complicated and can be rife with potential pitfalls that can derail your ability to collect the money you need in the short term and long term to get you and your family back on your feet. If you have questions regarding these issues, please give our office a call for a free consultation.