A Pennsylvania worker who is hurt at work or becomes ill as a result of a job has the right to be represented by an attorney throughout a workers’ compensation claim. However, the law does not require a worker to retain counsel.
Deciding whether to pursue a claim with the assistance of an attorney is a personal decision. If any of the following circumstances apply to you, it is likely in your best interest to hire a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney:
- Your employer isn’t forthcoming with claim information. Your employer is required by law to provide information about workers’ compensation insurance and how to file a claim. If your employer fails to provide this basic information, it doesn’t bode well for your claim down the road.
- Your claim is denied. If your employer tells you that it is going to deny your claim or you get an official denial after filing your claim, you have a right to appeal.
- You are forced to receive treatment from a specific doctor. Although there are rules and procedures you may need to follow with regard to which doctor treats you, you cannot be forced to receive treatment from a doctor chosen by your employer.
- You are not receiving proper medical treatment. If needed medical treatment is not being provided, you have a right to challenge this issue.
- You have pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition does not disqualify you from workers’ compensation; however, it can make getting a claim approved more difficult.
- Your average weekly wage calculations are incorrect. Your weekly wage replacement benefits and permanent disability benefits are determined by your average weekly wage, or AWW. If your AWW is calculated incorrectly, you could lose out on a significant amount of benefits over the life of your claim.
- You suffer retaliation. The law prevents your employer from retaliating against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. For example, if you are fired because you filed a claim, you should consult with an attorney right away.
- You have a third-party claim. Sometimes a third party contributed to a workplace accident. In this case you could be entitled to both workers’ compensation and compensation from a third-party lawsuit.
- You believe you will suffer permanent injuries. A worker whose injuries will not completely heal may be entitled to permanent partial or permanent total benefits. Often, workers’ compensation carriers try to minimize the percentage of permanent disability a claimant has suffered. An attorney can ensure that a worker receives a maximum permanent disability rating.
- You want to maximize your benefits. An experienced attorney can make sure that you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.
The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system can become complicated rather quickly for an injured or ill worker. Working with an attorney from the outset of your claim will help you avoid obstacles and complications down the line.