Workers’ Compensation Overview and Penalties
Nov 19, 2019
Workers’ compensation is available to most workers in Pennsylvania. Most employers are mandated to offer workers’ compensation. Filing for workers’ compensation is not always a smooth process. Sometimes, things go array during the process of filing and obtaining compensation. When that happens, it is best to discuss your case with an experienced Erie Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney at Melaragno, Placidi & Parini. Having a capable and knowledgeable attorney working on your behalf gets results that cannot always be attained if injured worker attempt to represent themselves.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act
The Workers’ Compensations Act (Act) came into being in 1915. The Act laid out the administrative level and appeal level procedures for bringing a claim. It also required injured workers be compensated without regard to fault that caused any injuries. The Act also covers compensation for injuries and occupational diseases. In total, the Act defines the scope of benefits for Pennsylvania workers, what conditions trigger benefits and how to go about obtaining benefits.
The main objective of the workers’ compensation system is to protect employers and workers by ensuring workers get medical care, obtain compensation for lost wages due to on-the-job injuries and requiring employers to cover the litigation costs of the workers’ compensation process. In return, employers receive the benefit of being protected from direct lawsuits filed by workers. Employers are also protected because injured workers are unable to recover damages for pain and suffering.
Some workers are exempt from the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation Act and they include:
- Railroad employees
- Federal workers
- Domestic workers/servants (coverage is optional)
- Agricultural workers who work less than 30 days or earn under $1,200/year
- Workers who applied and were granted an exemption due to executive position held (in certain corporations) or religious beliefs
Otherwise, workers are covered from the first day on the job and the coverage continues for the entire period of their employment. Diseases or injuries caused by and/or made worse by the job are covered under worker’s compensation, no matter what the worker’s previous physical condition was.
Bad faith and penalties
Some employers may attempt to avoid paying benefits they owe. When employers commit an error or fraud, often an injured worker is unaware of the situation because they do not know all the rules and regulations that employers must follow.
When an employer commits a violation of the Act, they can be held liable for penalties and possibly attorneys’ fees. Penalties can increase the amount of compensation an injured worker receives by as much as fifty percent.
There are many ways employers can violate the Act. These can include:
- Employer delays a payment
- Employer unilaterally suspending compensation
- Employer fails to pay the full amount of interest owed
- Employer sends a compensation check to an old address when they were advised of new address
- Employer violates a Bureau regulation
- Employer fails to issue a Notice of Denial in time
- Employer fails to notify the employee the claim was denied
These violations are not always clear. Additionally, workers’ compensation rules and laws are complicated. Injured workers should not face the fight for workers’ compensation alone. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Melaragno, Placidi & Parini can help.