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WORKERS COMPENSATION QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

I'm not working and I have no money, how can I hire and attorney?
What injuries are covered by the Workers' Compensation Act?
When I suffer a work injury do I have to be treated by a company doctor?
If I'm released by my doctor for light duty, what will happen to my benefits?
The employer's doctor releases me to go back to work but my doctor disagrees. What are my rights?
Recently, I was examined by the company physician. Shortly thereafter I received a petition in the mail stating that my benefits should be terminated as of the date of the company doctor's examination. What should I do?
If I receive worker's compensation, how much will my benefits be?
How soon do I have to tell my employer about an injury?
Can I be reimbursed for my travel expenses to and from medical treatment?
What if I plan to retire soon, what should I do? What are my rights?
Can I receive unemployment compensation benefits and worker's compensation benefits at the same time?
What will I do if my worker's compensation is denied?


I'm not working and I have no money, how can I hire and attorney?
If we file a claim for you, you do not have to pay anything until we recover benefits for you. The worker's compensation lawyer's fee is deducted from the benefits that are recovered. The fee is 20% of the amount recovered.

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What injuries are covered by the Workers' Compensation Act?
In simplest terms, if your work causes you an injury, irritates an existing medical or physical condition, or causes an illness, the Workers' Compensation Act entitles you to benefits.

A physical or medical condition that already exists (a heart condition, diabetes or even a high school sports injury) does not affect your eligibility for benefits.

For example, a man who for years had a problem with his right knee because of a football injury is eligible for worker's compensation if the job makes his knee problem worse.

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When I suffer a work injury do I have to be treated by a company doctor?
For the first 90 days of medical care, the law requires you to select from a list of doctors chosen by your employer. The law says that there must be at least six doctors for you to choose from. Your employer cannot (and should not) make the choice for you. You are free to choose your own doctor if your employer does not have a list available. And you are free to select another doctor on the list if the first choice was unsatisfactory. The list usually appears on letterhead from the worker's compensation insurance carrier. The sheet should explain your rights and obligations under the law.

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If I'm released by my doctor for light duty, what will happen to my benefits?
Your benefits will continue even if you are released for light duty if your employer does not have a less physically demanding job available. The job requirements would have to be within the restrictions imposed by your doctor.

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The employer's doctor releases me to go back to work but my doctor disagrees. What are my rights?
You can choose not to go back to work, but if you do not return to work the insurance company will probably file a petition to terminate, suspend or modify your worker's compensation benefits. In this case, you will continue to receive benefits until a hearing is scheduled for a judge to review your claim.

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Recently, I was examined by the company physician. Shortly thereafter I received a petition in the mail stating that my benefits should be terminated as of the date of the company doctor's examination. What should I do?

To defend this, you should contact a Scranton worker's compensation attorney at Munley, Munley & Cartwright. Your benefits cannot be stopped without a court order or an agreement of the parities. The petition will be litigated before a worker's compensation judge.

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If I receive worker's compensation, how much will my benefits be?
If you suffer a total disability work injury and can't work, you are entitled to wage loss benefits in addition to medical benefits. The rate of your wage loss benefits is 2/3 of your average weekly wage at the time of the work injury. The compensation rate cannot exceed the annual maximum compensation rate set forth in the statute.

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How soon do I have to tell my employer about an injury?
As soon as possible. Do not play games with your illness, injury or disease. And do not keep the pain to yourself.

Typically, an injured worker will complete the shift and go home thinking that the pain will subside. Some workers return home injured because they either do not want to bother with the dispensary, or think that the injury is not serious. The phrase "as soon as possible" applies here and is of extreme importance.

An employer is likely to fight a worker's compensation claim if an employee did not "give notice in a timely fashion."

The law says that you have 120 days to tell your employer about your work-related injury, illness or disease. The first day starts with the day of injury, or the day you discovered the illness or disease.

If you notify your employer within the first 21 days of the injury date, benefits are payable retroactive to the injury day. Within 21 and 120 days, benefits start the day you give notice.

Insurance companies, in order to provide your employer with an affordable rate, are checking continuously for fraudulent claims. Fraud drives up the worker's compensation premium. Claims filed days, weeks or months after an injury occurs are more likely to be investigated, challenged and/or denied.

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Can I be reimbursed for my travel expenses to and from medical treatment?
Reasonable expenses include bus or train fares, auto mileage, highway/bridge tolls and parking. Keep an accurate mileage record plus receipts for fares, parking and tolls. Submit these records to your employer for reimbursement.

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What if I plan to retire soon, what should I do? What are my rights?
At some point, depending upon your age and physical condition, an employer may ask you to retire if you are receiving worker's compensation. Retirement benefits should not affect the amount you receive under worker's compensation. Sometimes, however, there are instances where an unsuspecting worker gets his or her benefits reduced upon retirement.

Know the details of your pension agreement so that you don't lose all that is coming to you.

Efforts to stop or reduce worker's compensation benefits do not end once you have retired. Those with partial disabilities should take particular caution. Your employer can halt benefits if he or she can prove that, while partially disabled, you have voluntarily retired and withdrawn yourself from the work force.

If at the time you retired, you are available for light-duty work or part-time work, benefits cannot be stopped or reduced unless the company can show that there is light-duty or part-time work available for you.

If you intend to never work again, do not expect a benefits check in the mail.

Before you make a retirement decision, contact a PA worker's compensation lawyer at Munley, Munley & Cartwright.

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Can I receive unemployment compensation benefits and worker's compensation benefits at the same time?

It is possible to receive both benefits, depending upon the situation.

If you are receiving unemployment compensation benefits and seek to obtain worker's compensation benefits, the unemployment compensation benefits will be credited against any award of worker's compensation benefits you may receive, unless your award of worker's compensation benefits is for a specific loss or received in a fatal claim case.

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What will I do if my worker's compensation is denied?
If your employer denies you compensation, you have three years from the date of your injury to file again. It is your responsibility to file again. And if you do file again, it is best to obtain a lawyer—one who knows the current worker's compensation laws and one who has experience representing injured workers.

Many legal firms have lawyers specializing in this field. A lawyer with a good track record should have no trouble giving you the names and phone numbers of clients he or she represented. Talk with former clients and ask their opinion about the legal help they received.

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For more information:
Worker's Compensation in PA
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