This article is sponsored by our friends at Personal Law in Hopewell Township. If you have been injured on the job, they are the local experts on helping you know and understand your rights. 

One of the worst things that can happen to you while you are at work is sustaining an injury on the job. There are quite a few laws and protocols in place that define workplace injury and the rights of employees.

Our friends at Personal Law in Hopewell Township – also known as the Law Office of Andrew G. Rosenberg, P.A – detail the process what you should do in the event you get injured on the job, and how Personal Law can best serve your needs if this happens.

Injuries in the workplace are vast and can happen at a moment’s notice. From slipping and falling on a sheet of ice on work property, to having something fall on you, to being hurt while operating a piece of machinery, there are many types of ways you can be injured.

What Should You Do?

So, let’s say you do get injured while at work. The law allows for up to 120 days to report an on-the-job injury, however, you should not wait that long. The best course of action is to report the injury to your employer immediately after it happens.

You can notify any supervisor or boss, but to cover yourself, you should always notify the human resources department. Usually, there will be a written accident report for you to complete. If not, the notice to your employer can be given orally.

When Do You Need Legal Help?

You’ve submitted your injury claim to your employer. What happens if the employer or the insurance company denies the claim?

Richard Urick, a partner at Personal Law, describes your next step of action in detail.

You should seek legal help right away. We have encountered numerous instances where an injured worker could have saved him/herself a lot of aggravation had they sought our services earlier in the claim process. Remember, the workers compensation insurance company operates by the Golden Rule …they have the gold and they rule. Translated, that means they control the money, want to keep it, and not have to pay it out where possible.”

What Doctor Should You See?

After you have submitted your claim, what doctor should you see? Your primary care physician? A company doctor?

According to Decatur injury lawyers, the injured worker must see company recommended doctor for 90 days following the first date of treatment, if the employer has a list of panel doctors posted in the workplace, and if the insurance company or employer provide you with the written list once the injury is reported.

The only drawback, according to Urick, is that these doctors are “captives” of the employer and insurance company, telling them what they want to hear.

And what they want to hear is that you did not get hurt, are not hurt as bad as you think, and above all that you can work. Don’t expect to get the same type of care and attention you normally receive from a physician you know well or have treated with for a long time.”

Common Misconceptions

Of course, there are rumors or misconceptions about insurance companies that want you to be seen by the doctors they choose or whenever they want.

Attorney Urick explains what insurance companies can and cannot do.

Although the insurance company can have you examined by doctors they chose, the exams are limited to two in a 12 month period.

The insurance companies refer to these exams as IME’s . They claim it stands for an Independent Medical Exam. I am here to tell you that there is nothing independent about them.

The doctors who perform them are paid handsomely. Some medical practices earn millions of dollars a year performing the exams, ordering tests, writing reports and testifying in workers comp cases lending proof to existence of the aforementioned Golden Rule.”

Another common misconception is that people who are injured on the job can sue their employer. This is simply not true. The laws that are currently in place don’t allow for this.

Attorney Urick explains how the civil litigation process works.

In legal parlance the employer is immune from civil lawsuits. And so are co-employees that cause you to be injured.

You can sue a “third party” (i.e. someone not your employer or a co-employee) for civil money damages if you can prove the third party caused your injury.

Care needs to be taken when entertaining that idea because if you recover money from a negligent third party, you will have to pay back the workers’ compensation company for any benefits it paid. The payback amount varies from case to case but a good estimate is usually about two thirds of what was paid.”

How Much Will You Recieve?

Your claim has been accepted, and now you’ve been out of work for six months. How much will you receive for lost wages? What if you can’t return to work? These are real questions that you must ask an attorney while you’re being navigated through this process.

The answer to these questions can vary. Depending on the wages you earned in the year before your injury occurred, you will receive either 66.66% or 90% of your gross average weekly wage.

In some instances, you may be eligible to be paid the ‘minimum payable.’ Each year there is a cap or maximum amount payable. Higher wage earners are subject to this cap and therefore will not receive the full 66.66% of their wage loss. These payments are not taxable income.”

Now that you are receiving your payments for the injury that you suffered at work, how long will they last?

The law puts a limit of 500 weeks for the collection of partial disability (i.e. where you are earning or attributed to having earnings less than what you earned pre-injury).

For total disability (i.e. where your physical or emotional disability causes you to totally lose wages) there is no limit, EXCEPT if a special exam known as an Impairment Rating concludes that you are less than 50 % whole body impaired. If that is found then total disability would be paid for no more than 500 weeks.

Who Pays the Medical Bills?

As a result of your accident at work, your medical bills reached six figures of well over $100,000. These medical bills have been on-going for several years. Who is footing the bill for these expenses?

According to Urick, the employer and its workers compensation insurance company are responsible to pay your medical bills, at a reduced amount, for your lifetime, so long as the treatment and bills are reasonable, necessary and related cause and effect to your work injury.

Practically speaking, unless you have catastrophic injuries the likelihood of the insurance company paying bills for a lifetime is very small. More likely is that at some point the insurance company will convince a judge to allow it to cutoff the payment of bills.

As you can see, injury in the workplace is a very complex issue. There are a lot of variables, and it sometimes can be an arduous process.

Personal Law can help you if you are ever injured while you’re working. They are the experts, and you can trust them to handle your case to the best of their ability, and hopefully deliver results.

We are there to help you from the beginning of your case through the end, whether the end results in you being paid compensation, returning to work or settling your case. We shield you from the insurance company.

You will know which of our lawyers will attend your hearing and meet with us well before the hearing date. You will not have to guess who will show up. We at Personal Law will live up to our motto of providing personal service.”

Have you suffered an injury in the workplace recently? Give Personal Law a call and set up a consultation today.

Marc is a lifelong resident of Beaver County. A 2001 graduate of Center High School and 2005 graduate of Point Park University, Marc is employed by the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and officiates high school and college football. Follow Marc on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram @marcgrando