A workplace injury can have devastating consequences, particularly if you’re unable to return to work swiftly or you sustain long-term damage. Fortunately, most employees in Philadelphia are eligible to claim workers’ compensation if they get hurt while performing their duties or develop an occupational illness, but how much are you entitled to?
A workers’ compensation claim can be made up of many components. Most claimants want to obtain compensation for lost wages, but your claim may include specific benefits, depending on the type of injury you’ve sustained. Alternatively, a victim’s family may be eligible to claim death benefits if an employee dies due to a workplace illness or injury.
When workers’ comp is used to replace lost wages caused by injury or illness, the maximum weekly benefit available to Philadelphia employees is $1,205, following an increase in January 2022. However, the amount you’ll receive will depend on your earnings. If you earn up to $600.55 per week, for example, you may be entitled to 90% of your average weekly wage in workers’ comp benefits.
To determine what type of workers’ comp benefits you’re entitled to, you’ll be asked to undergo an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). This requires your doctors to assess the extent of your disability, based on the work-related injuries or illness you’ve experienced. If an employee is impaired by 35% or more due to a work-related illness or injury, they are deemed to have a ‘total disability’, while less than 35% impairment equates to ‘partial disability’.
If you’re diagnosed with a ‘total disability’, this means that you are unable to work at all, while a ‘partial disability’ may mean that you’re unable to return to your regular role but that you are able to work in some capacity.
Generally, employees can receive partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks, which can help to prevent financial loss due to a change in job role. During this time, you can be reassessed and be given total disability status, if your injuries or illness warrant it. Conversely, you might initially be assessed as having a total disability and subsequently be re-categorized as partially disabled, depending on how you recover from your workplace injuries.
Another factor that affects your workplace compensation claim is whether the disability arising from your injury is temporary or permanent. A temporary disability usually entitles you to claim workers’ compensation for up to 90 days, while a permanent disability allows you to claim workers’ comp for an extended time.
A permanent partial disability enables you to claim benefits for up to 500 weeks, while a permanent total disability may mean you’re eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits for the rest of your life.
A damaged ligament caused by slipping on a wet floor may heal within a matter of weeks with the right treatment, therefore, it is likely to be deemed a temporary disability. However, life-changing or chronic injuries, such as amputations or loss of feeling, are more likely to be deemed permanent.
As you can see, claiming workers’ compensation can be complicated, particularly as you need to prove what type of disability you’re experiencing because of your workplace injuries. Unfortunately, obtaining the compensation you’re entitled to can be made more difficult due to the fact that insurance companies will try to devalue your claim.
The insurer may argue that you should be reassessed as having a partial disability when you have a total disability to limit the amount of time you can receive benefits, for example. Alternatively, your claim could be denied due to a form that’s been submitted incorrectly or a missed deadline.
Sadly, a significant number of people miss out on the workers’ comp they’re entitled to, simply because the system is so complex. By working with a Philadelphia workers’ comp lawyer, however, you can increase your chances of successfully obtaining compensation and maximize your benefits too.
When you seek help from a workers’ compensation attorney in Philadelphia, they will ensure that your injuries are assessed fairly and that your claim isn’t being devalued by insurers. Similarly, if you are denied workers’ comp benefits, your lawyer may be able to help you file an appeal and have the decision overturned. From hiring medical experts to support your claim to meeting strict procedural requirements, your workers’ comp attorney will handle every aspect of the claims process.
Furthermore, workers’ comp lawyers will investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine who is liable for the harm you’ve suffered. If your employer caused your injuries intentionally or recklessly, for example, you may be able to take legal action against them and increase the amount of compensation you’re entitled to. Alternatively, if a third party was negligent and this contributed to your injuries, you may be eligible to seek compensation from them too.
According to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor, more than 137,000 people sustained workplace injuries and illnesses in Pennsylvania in 2020 and more than 83,000 of these incidents resulted in days away from work, job restrictions, or job transfers. In 2021, however, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Safety Annual Report showed an increase of 9.2%, taking the total up to 161,592 work-related illness and injuries cases in the state.
Fortunately, virtually all employers in Pennsylvania are required to provide workers’ comp coverage, which means that the vast majority of workers in Philadelphia are eligible to claim workers’ comp benefits if they sustain a workplace injury.
While recovering from an unexpected workplace injury or occupational illness is challenging enough, working with workers’ comp attorneys can help to relieve unnecessary stress during this time and enable you to access the financial support you’re entitled to.