An Introduction to the Workers’ Compensation System

Have you been injured on the job? Have you been denied Workers’ Compensation benefits? If so, call the law firm of Behrend and Ernsberger, P.C. today at (412) 391-2515.

If your work causes an injury, illness or disease, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, there several forms of compensation, including Payments for Lost Wages, Death Benefits, Specific Loss Benefits and Medical Care.

The workers’ compensation system was developed in each state in the United States to address the tens of thousands of industrial injuries in America’s manufacturing golden age. At the dawn of the industrial revolution, if a worker was injured on the job, in most cases, he would have been left without an adequate remedy. The law favored employers and made personal injury recovery almost impossible for the average worker. As the injustices of that system disappeared, companies began to lose too much money in lawsuits. Thus, the workers’ compensation system was devised to strike a balance between the need to compensate injured workers and to protect companies from being overwhelmed by lawsuits. The system guarantees workers that, in most cases, they will not lose their livelihoods, while also guaranteeing that companies will be able to continue to function after an injury.

Unfortunately, despite numerous rules and improvements in workplace safety, accidents still happen and occupational disease persists. While the economic drivers of the United States and the Pittsburgh region have changed dramatically, the workers’ compensation system still plays a valuable role in ensuring worker safety while also providing the worker with the means to sustain his or her livelihood during the recovery period. The workers’ compensation system covers almost every form of employment in Pennsylvania.

There are several factors that go into a workers’ compensation case. To be eligible for the workers’ compensation system, both the employee and employer must be covered by the law. Further, the injury must be covered by the law. Compensable injuries include long-term exposure to a hazardous condition or occupational diseases. The conduct causing the injury must also be within the scope of the employment. The employer must have notice of the injury within 21 days of the injury or diagnosis of occupational disease. The employee may have to submit to a medical examination in order to be eligible for benefits. Self-employed individuals are also permitted to enter the system.

Unlike a case for personal injuries, the workers’ compensation system is non-adversarial. “Non-adversarial” system means that the employee and the employer are supposed to be on the same side. Rather than appearing in the court system, a workers’ compensation hearing takes place with a workers’ compensation judge (WCJ), who is a member of the executive branch. The WCJ tries to find the correct resolution to the case that best fulfills the goals of the workers’ compensation system. Sometimes there are disputes about the accident, about the injury, or about the employment itself. Even before a dispute arises, you should have a lawyer on your side. Often, the employer’s insurance company gets involved and will be the entity refusing to pay your claim. Therefore, it is crucial that your lawyers are experienced in taking on big insurance companies.

At Behrend and Ernsberger, P.C., we have the experience and skill necessary to get you the fair and just compensation you deserve. All workers’ compensation cases are different, so you need a lawyer who can adapt to the arguments being presented against your claim. Our team of attorneys can address the nature of your accident or occupational disease and can answer any questions that you may have. Don’t delay filing you workers’ compensation claim – get things moving today by calling Behrend and Ernsberger, P.C. at (412) 391-2515.