Harrisburg Workers Compensation Lawyer
We are the Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyers you can count on to provide the comprehensive representation you need to seek justice and to secure the proper workers compensation and medical treatment for your work injuries. We have been vigorously representing injured workers for decades. We have three attorneys certified in Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation, the most in Central Pennsylvania. Jason M. Weinstock, Louis J. Michelsen and Thomas Wilken of our firm are Certified as Specialists in the practice of Workers’ Compensation Law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Section on Workers Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Jason Weinstock was named by Best Lawyers in America as 2014 Lawyer of the Year for his representation of injured workers in Central Pennsylvania. Our team of experts work together and can provide the expertise that is needed to assist you. Contact our team of professionals for a free consultation and let our Harrisburg workers comp specialists help you today.
Work-Related Injuries & Notice of Work Injuries
If an Employee is injured as a result of or in the course of his/her employment, they may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Workers’ Compensation benefits can include wage loss benefits consisting of two-thirds to ninety percent of his/her average weekly wage (up to the yearly state maximum) and/or payments of all medical bills for your treatment for your work injury. A compensable work related injury can include:
- injuries sustained from a new traumatic event
- an aggravation of a pre-existing work or non-work related condition
- injuries caused by repetitive job functions
Under the Workers’ Compensation Statute, verbal or written notice must be provided within 120 days of the injury or the Employee may be ineligible for any benefits. If notice is provided within 21 days of the injury and a claim is accepted or approved by a Workers’ Compensation Judge, benefits will be paid retroactively, effective the first day the Employee suffers a wage loss or incurs a medical bill. If notice is provided outside the 21 days, benefits may only begin to be payable as of the day of the notice.
If an Employee is injured on the job, the employee should provide written notice to the Employer even if they can continue to work despite the injury. Just because an Employee provides notice does not mean the Employer will accept the workers’ compensation claim; however, an Employer will generally find a promptly reported claim more credible in the event any wage loss is suffered or any medical bills are incurred. The Employee should consult their Company Work Rules and/or Union contract to determine the manner in which they should report the injury. If no procedure is outlined, it is better for the Employee to provide written notification to the Employer placing it on notice and have the Employee obtain a copy of that written notice.
Contact our team of professionals for a free consultation and let our Harrisburg workers’ compensation specialists help you today.
Generally an injured Employee is required to treat with a panel physician for 90 days after the injury is reported. This applies only to injuries which are accepted by the employer within 21 days from the date that notice is provided of the injury. A panel physician is a health care provider approved by the Employer. Once an Employer is notified of a work-related injury, the Employer must provide a list of at least six (6) doctors or health care providers that the Employee can see and have the Employee sign a verification of receipt of this list. If that list is not provided or a signed verification is not received, the Employee may see any doctor the Employee chooses and the bills associated with the treatment should be covered by the Employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. If the Employee is provided with the list of panel physicians and the employee chooses to see his/her own doctor during the first 90 days, any bills associated with that treatment may be denied, unless you are a Union Employee. A Union Contract may have a specific provision that allows you to see any medical provider during the first 90 days. If you are unsure if your Union Contract allows you to see any doctor within the first 90 days of your injury, check with your Steward or Business Agent.
After 90 days, an injured worker can treat with any physician for his/her work injury at the Employer’s expense. The Employer can no longer limit your medical treatment. The injured worker must notify the workers’ compensation carrier of the name of the new physician within 5 days of beginning treatment with the new doctor. Contact our team of professionals for a free consultation at 717-238-1657 and let our Harrisburg workers compensation specialists help you today.
If a Workers Compensation Claim is Denied
If at any time an Employee receives a notice denying a workers’ compensation claim for wage loss and/or medical benefits, the injured worker must file a Claim Petition to force the Employer to recognize the injury and pay lost wage and/or medical benefits. The petition must be filed within three years of the date of the injury or the right to benefits more than likely will be lost. If a workers compensation claim is denied, the Employee need not treat with a panel physician, but rather may select a physician of their own choosing. Medical bills may be the responsibility of your health insurance while your claim is denied. You will likely have to provide a copy of the workers’ compensation denial to the medical provider and/or your health insurance carrier to get your medical bills covered during the pendency of your Workers’ Compensation claim. Feel free to contact our office for a free consultation to review your workers’ compensation claim at 717-238-1657.
If the Claim is Accepted
A Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Claim is only accepted by the Employer’s issuance of a Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP). The NCP sets forth the nature of the work injury, the average weekly wage, as well as the Compensation Payable rate. The Employer will be required to pay wage loss benefits and all reasonable and necessary medical bills incurred as a result of the work-related injury for treatment with the panel doctor within the first 90 days or for any other physician outside of the 90 days.
NOTE: Check your labor contract to determine if you may see a doctor of your own choosing within the first 90 days.
Be aware that an Employer may issue a Temporary Notice of Compensation Payable (TNCP). This does not mean that the Employer is accepting the injury. The TNCP can be effective for up to 90 days. If the Employer does nothing, the TNCP will convert to a Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP). However, during this 90-day period, an Employer can issue a Notice Stopping Temporary Compensation Payable (NSTCP) and Notice of Compensation Denial (NCD), which will serve to stop the payment of benefits to the Claimant. In order to avoid losing rights under the Workers Compensation Act, a claim petition must be filed in order to have the work injury properly recognized. Contact our team of professionals for a free consultation and let our Harrisburg workers’ compensation specialists help you today.
Average Weekly Wage
An Employee should be sure to double check the Employer’s figures when they calculate the Employee’s average weekly wage. A Statement of Wages should be provided to the Employee once a workers’ compensation claim is accepted. For non-salaried employees this Statement of Wages should document the Employee’s gross wages over the previous four quarters (13 week quarters). For Employees employed more than three periods of 13 weeks, the average weekly wage is calculated by taking the top three earning quarters, averaging those quarters and dividing by 13. The workers’ compensation rate is 66 2/3 % to 90 % of the average weekly wage up to the state maximum. (The maximum compensation payable for 2018 is $1025 per week). The maximum workers’ compensation rates for all years can be found on the Pennysylvania Department of Labor and Industry website. The average weekly wage is calculated as of the date of the injury and not the date of disability, if they are different. Contact our Harrisburg workers compensation experts today at 717-238-1657.
Ongoing Treatment and Rehabilitation Nurses
If an Employee needs ongoing medical treatment, the Employer is entitled to reasonable updates from the doctor regarding the treatment provided and the Employee’s prognosis. The Employer is not entitled to have a Rehabilitation Nurse or anyone else attend doctor’s appointments with the Employee. If this is occurring, the Employee should advise the employer and the doctor or health care provider in writing that no Employer representative will be allowed to attend any appointments or have any direct communication with the Employee’s doctor or health care provider. We can help you with this process to ensure you get the proper care without Employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier interference. Contact our team of professionals at 717-238-1657 for a free consultation and let our Harrisburg workers compensation specialists help you today.
If an injured Employee is able to work a light-duty job, the Employer may offer the Employee work within his or her restrictions. A Notice of Ability To Return to Work must be provided by the Workers’ Compensation carrier. Before the Employee agrees to perform that work, the employee should be provided, preferably in writing, a job description, the wage paid and the number of hours they will be required to perform the work. The Employee may possibly be able to reject the light-duty work if:
- their labor contract allows the employee to reject the work,
- the job is not within the employee’s medical restrictions,
- the job is not within the employee’s vocational capabilitiies, or
- if the Employee has rights to medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Be aware, however, an employee’s workers’ compensation wage loss payment may be reduced based on 2/3 the difference between the Employee’s average weekly wage and the amount the Employee would have earned had they worked the light duty job depending on the basis of rejecting the light duty offer. Our office can assist you in understanding your legal rights.
NOTE: Be sure to check the Union Contract to determine if an Employee may reject light-duty work or if there are time maximums on how long an Employee may be required to work light-duty before the job becomes permanent.
Specific Loss Benefits
If an Employee suffers a traumatic injury involving the dismemberment, the loss of use or permanent disfigurement of a body part, and/or disfigurement on the neck face, or head the Employee is entitled to a specific schedule of benefits. These benefits are determined by the extent and severity of the loss and are generally set by the Workers’ Compensation Act depending on the body part lost, and the extent of the disfigurement. Let our Harrisburg workers comp specialists help you today, call 717-238-1657.
Many times Employees suffer traumatic injuries that are instantly detectable; for example – slipping on a patch of ice at work and breaking your arm. Other injuries occur over the course of time; for example – an over-the-road truck driver who over a course of years has developed lower back pain from sitting in driver’s seat or has been repetitively doing any activity that has caused, increased or reactivated pain in any part of the body. Both of these types of injuries are compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act. If an Employee believes that they have suffered a Repetitive Trauma injury that has developed over the course of time, they should provide notice to the Employer regardless of whether or not they require treatment. If the Employer fails to recognize this injury, the Employee should consult an experienced Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyer to determine their best option. Call us at 717-238-1657, our team of Harrisburg workers comp lawyers can help you today.
Occupational hearing loss is a work-related injury that is compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act. This type of hearing loss is usually incremental and occurs over the course of many years of exposure to occupational noise and, therefore, can be difficult to detect without consulting with an expert. If an Employee believes that they have suffered occupational hearing loss they should consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as well as a health care provider trained in detecting hearing loss to determine the severity and cause of the hearing loss. Contact our team of professionals at 717-238-1657 for a free consultation and let our Harrisburg workers comp specialists help you today.
Termination or Suspension of Benefits
Once an injury is accepted by a Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP) or accepted by way of an order from a Workers’ Compensation Judge, those benefits will continue unless the Employee agrees to the termination or suspension of benefits, a Judge’s Order is issued terminating or suspending the benefits, or the Employer files a Notice of Modification or Suspension which was not challenged. If an Employee is receiving workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to an NCP and the Employer wishes to stop those benefits, a Notice must be provided to the Employee. If the Employee returns to work, but he/she disagrees with the Notice of Suspension or Modification of benefits, the Employee must file a Petition challenging the suspension or modification of benefits within twenty (20) days. This occurs frequently when an Employee returns to work at his/her pre injury wages or a lower paying position due to restrictions imposed by a health care provider. Our experienced lawyers can provide you a free consultation to review your case and protect your rights, call 717-238-1657.
Non-Union Work for Union Employees
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that a non-union position is considered unavailable as a matter of law to a unionized Employee if the unionized Employee would lose qualitative benefits. Therefore, if the Employer attempts to modify or suspend workers’ compensation benefits based on the availability of non-union work, they are in violation of the law and that suspension or modification must be challenged. Contact our team of professionals for a free consultation and let our Harrisburg workers comp law firm help you today.
It is not uncommon for Employees on workers’ compensation to be eligible for a lump sum settlement or otherwise known as a Compromise and Release. However, before entering into an agreement to settle a workers’ compensation claim for a lump sum, there are a multitude of issues that must be considered since the typical settlement will require the Employee to give up their rights to any future wage loss and/or medical benefits associated with the injury. Included among those issues are the following:
- If the Employee should suffer a reoccurrence of the injury which results in total disability, how will they pay for that treatment?
- How will the Employee support himself during his period of reoccurring disability?
- If the Employee is applying for Social Security Disability, how will that settlement affect his/her Social Security benefits?
- Are there any outstanding liens that may reduce the amount of money an Employee will get after the settlement is completed?
- How does Social Security disability rates get affected by a Compromise and Release?
- How does a settlement take into account Medicare?
These issues should be considered before entering into a lump sum settlement and our firm can assist you with answering these questions. Contact our Harrisburg workers comp lawyers at 717-238-1657 for answers to all your questions.
Harrisburg Workers’ Compensation & Social Security Disability Benefits FAQs
If you have been injured on the job or involved in some accident which has kept you from working, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation or social security disability benefits. Obtaining Pennsylvania workers’ comp or federal SSD benefits can be challenging and confusing, and you likely have several questions about your claim or claims. Below are answers to some of the questions most frequently encountered by the lawyers at Ira H. Weinstock, P.C. in Harrisburg as we help people throughout Pennsylvania recover compensation for work injuries or auto and truck accidents. If you have other questions or need to speak with a Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorney about your accident or injury, give us a call toll free at (866) 632-0348, or contact us online for a free consultation.
Can I see my own doctor for a workplace injury, or do I have to go where my employer tells me to?
If your employer has posted a list of doctors in the workplaceand the Employer has you sign a notification of rights and responsibilities under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act at the time of hire and at the time of notification of work injury, then you are required to see one of those providers in order to have your claim paid by your employer. If your company does not have a list posted or if it is not posted properly, or does not have you sign a rights and responsibilities form, then you are free to see a doctor of your own choosing. You can also switch doctors to a doctor of your choice after 90 days, but during the first 90 days of your claim, you can only see a doctor who is on the employer’s list. You can switch to any other doctor on the list within the initial 90-day period if you don’t like the first doctor you see.
Can I get a second opinion?
If the doctor you go to is suggesting you be treated with invasive surgery, you can get a second opinion, and your employer (or your employer’s workers’ comp carrier) will cover the cost of the second opinion even during the first 90 days. After the first 90 days, you are able to get a second opinion with a doctor of your choosing.
Can I file a civil lawsuit for negligence in a workplace accident if I’m already collecting workers compensation for the same injury?
Yes, there are many instances where it may be appropriate to file a civil lawsuit against a negligent third party who is responsible for your injuries in addition to a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim. If you do achieve a settlement or verdict against a negligent third party, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier may seek reimbursement from you for the benefits they paid. However, in most cases the amount you can recover in a civil lawsuit is greater than what you receive in workers’ compensation benefits, so it is probably still in your interest to pursue a civil claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim in appropriate cases. Make sure you hire an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation and civil litigation who can help you determine the best course of action and represent you in either case.
Can I receive Social Security Disability while I am temporarily disabled from working to help me until I can get back on my feet?
Social Security Disability benefits are only available if you are permanently disabled from working. In order to be eligible for SSD, you must have a physical or mental condition (or both) which makes you unable to work or to perform “substantial gainful activity.” Additionally, you must present medical evidence that demonstrates you have a medical condition that is likely to last for a year or more or eventually result in death. Proving disability for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits involves both medical and legal definitions and requires the assistance of your doctor and your lawyer.
If you are temporarily disabled due to a work-related injury, you should be able to receive payment for medical expenses and also some wage replacement from workers’ compensation.
Why do I need a lawyer to handle my Harrisburg Social Security Disability claim?
You might think that filing a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) is merely a matter of filling out a form, but unfortunately that is not the case at all. Social Security requires an abundance of paperwork and documentation to be filed in support of your claim and applies very strict rules to decide whether you are entitled to SSD benefits or not. Well over one-half and as many as two-thirds of SSD applications are initially denied. Many people simply give up at this stage because they do not know they have any options or do not think it is possible or worthwhile to fight the Social Security Administration. We can help you prepare your application so that it is successful the first time around, but if it isn’t, we can also help in a number of ways, including requesting a reconsideration hearing or appealing your case through the different levels of administrative review and even into federal court if necessary. We don’t stop fighting until we have exhausted every avenue to get you the benefits you deserve, and we don’t charge you any legal fees unless and until we recover for you, contact our experienced Harrisburg workers compensation lawyers today.