Workers’ compensation is a no fault system; if you are injured on the job, you are entitled to benefits regardless of whether your employer’s negligence caused your injuries. The system aims to provide compensation for injured workers without focusing on who is to blame.
However, the fact that you don’t have to demonstrate that the injuries were your employer’s fault does not mean that there is no room for disagreement on the matter of compensation. An employer may argue that your injuries are not work-related, or may accept that one injury is work-related while denying compensation for related claims.
A no-fault approach also does not mean that every injury on the job automatically results in full and fair workers’ compensation benefits. It is important to understand your rights to compensation and to work with a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney who can ensure that your interests are protected.
Pennsylvania Provides Three Types of Benefits for Injured Workers
Workers injured in Pennsylvania may be eligible for three types of compensation, depending on the nature and extent of the injuries.
- Workers’ compensation benefits cover all of an injured worker’s medical expenses; generally, there is no monetary limit, and it does not matter when these injuries require treatment.
- Workers’ compensation also provides injured workers with wage loss benefits, to make up for the time when the worker is unable to work. A worker is eligible for these benefits beginning on the eighth day that he or she is unable to work; if the injury prevents work for more than 14 days, the benefits become retroactive to the day of injury.
- In particular cases, an injured worker may be eligible for additional benefits known as specific loss benefits. These benefits are available in cases involving permanent loss of function, disfigurement or loss of a body part.
Choosing A Lump Sum Settlement: When Is It in Your Best Interest?
Under Pennsylvania law, an injured worker may agree to settle for a lump sum payment instead of receiving these benefits gradually. In many cases, this can provide an injured worker with immediate access to much-needed funds. Among other things, such settlement funds can allow a worker to seek retraining or education to re-enter the work force in a position that is not impeded by the worker’s disability.
However, before accepting such a settlement, it is important to understand the consequences of this decision. In some cases, these settlements may not be in the injured workers’ best interest. If you have been hurt on the job, you must always remember that the insurance company’s goal is not to look out for your interests, but to minimize the costs for the company.
When offering a lump sum settlement, the insurance company may offer a settlement much lower than is reasonable. Additionally, in accepting a lump settlement you will be waiving your rights to future benefits related to this injury — so it is important to ensure that you understand the full extent of your injuries. Before agreeing to a lump sum settlement, discuss your options and your situation with a workers’ compensation attorney.