Frequently Asked Questions: Workers’ Compensation
- What is workers’ compensation?
- When should I hire an attorney if I am injured at work?
- Should I use an attorney experienced in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation matters?
- I am an injured worker. How does my attorney get paid?
- What kind of medical treatment is an injured worker entitled to?
- My doctor says I can perform light duty work. Will I lose my workers comp benefits?
- What if the company doctor releases me to go back to work but my doctor disagrees?
If you suffer an injury at work or a work-related illness, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides that you are entitled to have your medical expenses and any wage loss paid if you are disabled from working. Benefits are typically paid by an insurance company.
You should consult with an workers’ compensation attorney immediately after you suffer a work-related injury or illness. Even if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, we can help you navigate through the complicated workers’ compensation laws and ensure that you are receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled. Likewise, even if the workers’ compensation insurance company begins paying benefits, they may seek to cut off or limit your benefits at some point—having an Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer in your corner from the beginning will help you avoid a future loss of benefits or medical treatment. Since an attorney is only paid based on benefits which he or she helps you obtain or for which court appearances are necessary, if you hire us at a time when the workers’ compensation insurance company is paying your benefits without dispute, we will not collect an attorney’s fee while we monitor a claim during this stage and will not seek to collect a fee from our workers’ compensation clients until our legal services are absolutely needed, such as when litigation or court appearances are required, or when a settlement can be negotiated.
Yes. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law is complicated and the insurance companies all have experienced workers’ compensation lawyers helping them to reduce or eliminate an injured person’s workers’ compensation benefits. Every injured worker deserves to have an experienced Pennsylvania worker comp attorney in their corner to fight for them and so that they can understand their rights and be on equal footing with the insurance companies.
Before a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer can collect a fee, the fee agreement entered into by the attorney and the client must be approved by a workers’ compensation judge. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act limits an attorney’s fee to 20 percent of the wage loss or lump sum settlement. Accordingly, at Solnick & Associates, LLC, we commit to our workers’ compensation clients that we will not request approval of a fee until we are litigating an aspect of the claim and/or settle the claim. Once the fee is approved, we are paid 20 percent of any benefits we recover on your behalf.
This is a very misunderstood section of the law by insurance companies, employers and sometimes doctors and treatment facilities. If your employer has posted a list of six or more physicians or healthcare providers in your workplace, and you signed an acknowledgment of such a list at the commencement of your employment and again when you were injured, then you must treat with one of those medical providers for 90 days following the injury. If any of these requirements are not met, you are free to treat with whomever you choose. Likewise, even during the initial 90-day period, you may treat with a healthcare provider of your choice as long as you are also consulting with your employer’s “panel” provider.
Possibly. If the light duty job pays less than what you made before your injury you are entitled to receive partial disability payments. If your doctor gives you the OK to perform light duty work but your employer does not have a light duty job available, you can continue to receive your Pennsylvania workers comp payments. This part of the law can be very confusing which is why it is important to hire a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney.
If the company-approved physician releases you to return to work but your personal doctor disagrees, you can refuse to return to work. It is important to note, however, that your employer can then file a “Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend Benefits.” If this happens, Pennsylvania law allows you to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits until a judge can review your case in a hearing.