The basics of Pennsylvania workers' compensation

Workers' compensation refers to coverage that an employer holds to pay for medical bills and lost wages from an on-the-job injury or illness. The coverage takes effect on the employee's first day of work, but it does not cover self-inflicted damages. Similarly, it may not cover accidents resulting from intoxication, illegal drug use or the violation of any other laws.

The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act outlines these benefits, including death benefits for surviving dependents if a worker dies on the job. The benefits may come from either a private insurance company or the State Workers' Insurance Fund. If the employer does not carry workers' compensation insurance, the employees may be able to file any claims with the Uninsured Employer Guarantee Fund.

The most important step to receiving funds from a workers' compensation claim is reporting the injury as early as possible. Documenting the exact location, date and time of the accident can help expedite the process. Failure to report it promptly could result in a delayed payment or even a denial of the claim. As soon as an employee misses work due to a work-related illness or injury, the employer must file a first report of injury with the Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

After any on-the-job accident, it is important to follow the employer's guidelines for filing a workers' compensation claim. An attorney may be able to assist the injured employee with completing the paperwork and filing the claim. If the insurance company or employer denies the claim, an attorney could help the employee file a claim petition for a hearing in front of a workers' compensation judge.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, "Workers' Compensation & the Injured Worker", October 19, 2014

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