Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation: What Benefits Can you Collect:
Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act, an injured worker may recover only five types of benefits:
- loss of earnings due to the injury
- specific loss (ie. loss of a finger, arm, leg, hearing, ettc.)
- death benefits as a result of a work injury
- illegally employed minor’s benefits
- reasonable and necessary medical benefits
The questions that get asked all the time are: What about my pain and suffering? What about my loss of enjoyment of activities? What about this injury affecting me physically and mentally for the rest of my life? Where is the compensation for these real consequences of the work injury?
Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act does not require the insurance company or the employer to pay for any of these losses. For most injured workers, the Act only pays the loss of earnings (typically 2/3rds of one’s average weekly wages) and medical expenses. This is true even in the most catastrophic of injuries such as an accident resulting in the worker becoming a paraplegic. It is here most glaringly that the Act falls short.
In contrast to a civil lawsuit against a negligent driver or slip and fall in a grocery store, the Pennsylvania Legislature believed that it cut a good balance between protecting an employer from a direct lawsuit (you cannot sue your employer directly for a work injury unless your civil rights have been violated) and compensating “quickly” an injured worker. The Legislature reasoned that if it would speed up PA workers compensation litigation(to get workers’ compensation and medical treatment quicker) — compared to a civil lawsuit. In exchange for limited damages available to the injured worker, the worker can receive a decision regarding the outcome of the case much faster. This model was repeated recently in civil litigation in the Commonwealth via the “limited tort option”. Customers of auto insurance policies can opt for “limited tort” instead of “full tort” and are therefore limiting the damages that can be recovered; limited tort recoveries are very similar to the benefits available under PA Workers Compensation, except in severe injury cases.
However, in some circumstances you may pursue both a Pennsylvania Workers Compensation claim and a third party personal injury action if your injury was caused by a third party who is not employed by your employer. For example, if you are a truck driver who is injured by a another motorist on the job, you may have both a PA Workers Compensation claim and third party personal injury action.
If you have suffered a work related injury and you have a question as to what benefits you may be entitled to, seeking the counsel of an experienced Pennsylvania Workers Compensation and personal injury lawyer can have a significant impact on the value and duration of benefits available. Call our office for a free consultation at 717-238-1657.