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Understanding workers' compensation benefits

Even a minor workplace injury could be devastating to your family's budget. A trip to the emergency room for a broken bone, stitches or other injury can result in bills from numerous caregivers, including the doctor who treated you, the radiologist, any consulting physicians, the pharmacist and others. The hospital itself will likely charge you a fee.

If your injury is more severe, you can expect those costs to be higher. On top of that, if you are not clocking in, you are not collecting a paycheck. You may feel your dreams for the future slipping away. Fortunately, most Pennsylvania employers carry workers' compensation insurance as the law requires. Understanding your benefits under this program may help you claim what you deserve if you are injured at work.

What does workers' compensation cover?

Even if the accident that resulted in your workplace injuries was due to your own carelessness, workers' compensation insurance covers your expenses in many circumstances. Your impairment by drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, your blatant disregard for safety rules, or intentionally injuring yourself will all disqualify you from benefits. Some of those benefits include the following:

  • Coverage of your medical expenses related to the injury
  • Partial replacement of lost wages without tax ramifications
  • Expenses related to therapy or occupational training if your injury prevents you from doing the same work as before the accident
  • Compensation if the accident results in permanent or long-term disability
  • Survivor benefits to family members of anyone who dies in a workplace accident
  • Coverage of medical expenses for illnesses or other conditions directly linked to your employment, such as lung disease from asbestos exposure or carpal tunnel syndrome

Like some employees, you may worry about your job security if you file a claim for workers' compensation. However, the law forbids an employer from firing or otherwise retaliating against a worker who rightfully seeks these benefits.

Seeking help for your claim

Most workplace accidents are avoidable with appropriate training, safety protocols and proper equipment. However, if your employer's failure to provide a safe work environment led to your injury, your impulse may be to file a lawsuit. In most cases, workers' compensation law prevents you from suing your employer. However, you may wish to discuss your case with an attorney who is experienced in Pennsylvania workers' comp laws.

Such an attorney can also be of assistance in helping you obtain all the benefits you need from your employer's insurer. The claims process can be complicated, and insurers are not always willing to pay what you deserve. Legal assistance may mean the difference in your recovery.

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