Attorney Fees under Heart and Lung Act
PA Heart and Lung and PA Workers Comp: 20 percent attorney fee from Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits paid for by the Employer
Under the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act, Police, Fire and State correctional employees who are unable to perform their positions due to a work injury that occurs in the performance of duty are entitled to Full Salary and all other benefits they would be receiving but for their work injury. These employees, unlike individuals solely on Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits, receive their full benefits and all wage increases, during the length of their disability until such time as the employee is determined to be permanently unable to return to active duty. These benefits just like Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits are also nontaxable.
It is recommended that if you suffer an injury that is covered under the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act that the employee also make sure his/her injury is also recognized under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. There is always a potential that an individual can be terminated from Pennsylvania Heart and Lung benefits and be still be entitled to Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits. This is why it is important from the start in most situations to make sure your injury is recognized under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act. The Employer should provide you a Notice of Compensation Payable within 21 days of you providing notice of your work injury. If not, contact our office for a free consultation to discuss your options.
The Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act provides: “…During the time salary for temporary incapacity shall be paid… by the county, city, borough, town or township, any Workmen’s compensation received or collected by any such employee for such period shall be turned over… to such county, city, borough, town or township, and paid into the treasury thereof…”
An issue arises when a 20 percent attorney fee is deducted from an employee’s Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation benefits. Should this be paid for by the Employer who is paying Heart and Lung Benefits or the injured worker?
The employee per the Pennsylvania Heart and Lung is mandated to turn over the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation benefits now less a 20 percent attorney fee. The Commonwealth Court has held that an Employer is to pay the Employee’s Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation counsel fees over and above its liability for the Heart and Lung benefits. See City of Philadelphia vs. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Ford-Tilghman), 996 A.2d 569 (Pa. Commw Ct. 2010). In other words, the employee signs over his Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefit to the municipality now less the 20 percent attorney fee and the Employer only receives a credit for the amount of the signed over workers’ compensation check which is 20 percent less than before.
This is a significant holding which essentially affords these municipal employees the ability to have an attorney represent the employee’s interests under Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation at no additional expense to the injured worker. This continues the Legislature’s intent of wanting these public safety and high risk workers to be afforded the upmost protection when injured in the line of duty.
Please call a Harrisburg Workers’ Compensation Attorney at Ira H. Weinstock P.C. for a free consultation in the evaluation of your Pennsylvania Heart and Lung Act and Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act case. We can determine whether you will be eligible to have your attorney fees covered by your Employer.