How Do Layoffs Impact Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation?
The reality of the modern workforce is that Employers will sometimes go through layoffs during times of economic difficulty. If you are receiving Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits or you have been injured on the job, at the time you have been laid off, you may have some additional options. If you are laid off after your injury has been accepted and while receiving total disability benefits, you should continue to receive both your workers’ compensation wage loss and medical benefits. You should be aware, however, that your medical benefits are not the same as your health insurance. Your workers’ compensation medical benefits will only cover treatment for your work related injury. If you are receiving total disability workers’ compensation benefits after you have been laid off and you receive notice to attend an IME (Independent Medical Examination), you may want to think about contacting an attorney because the Employer in all likelihood is laying the groundwork to reduce your benefits by modifying, suspending or terminating your benefits.
If you are laid off after a work related injury, but at a time when you are working on a modified duty basis or working with restrictions you could be eligible for a reinstatement of total disability workers’ compensation. You should be aware, however, that in most cases, the Employer will not automatically start paying you total disability benefits once you are laid off – you may need to file a reinstatement petition to secure these benefits.
If you have sustained a work related injury but before the injury is recognized, you are laid off, you should think about pursuing a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim to preserve your rights. Even if you are no longer working for the Employer, the Employer can still be held liable for your medical treatment and wage loss if you are restricted in your ability to work. Also, some employees who sustain work injuries think they are no big deal and so they don’t report them or pursue a claim. The risk is that little injuries sometimes will become big injuries and if you haven’t had the injury recognized it could affect your future wages especially if you are working for a new employer.
Finally, some fortunate laid off workers will receive severance benefits at the time they are laid off. Many times the Employer will require that the Employee sign a general release releasing the Employer from many potential causes of action. Many Employees assume that this applies to Workers’ Compensation claims. However, the only way to fully release an Employer from liability on a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation claim is through the approval of a Workers’ Compensation Judge.
If you have been laid off and have questions regarding an existing or potential workers’ compensation case, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.