The stress of an on-the-job injury and the lost wages that follow may be more drama than one person can manage. Collecting workers’ compensation benefits may make life a little easier and will alleviate some of the anxiety due to being injured and out of work. If an employment status change – like being laid off – is added to this situation, however, stress may begin to build again.
You might have a lot of questions. What happens to my benefits? How will my bills be paid? What about my family?
A complex situation like this can be quite overwhelming for an injured worker worried about their livelihood and their future. Seeking legal advice and guidance from an experienced Gettysburg workers’ compensation attorney can lessen some of that tension and allow time for the healing and recovery needed after an injury.
The basics of workers’ compensation in Gettysburg, PA
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act is a system that protects employees and employers from work related injuries and illnesses. Per the Act, “Employees receive medical treatment and are compensated for lost wages associated with work-related injuries and disease and employers provide for the cost of such coverage while being protected from direct lawsuits by employees.”
Workers’ compensation insurance coverage is required for all companies who employ one or more employees. Employers who do not have workers’ compensation insurance may face being sued by employees and may be criminally prosecuted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Employers can obtain insurance through licensed insurance companies, the State Workers’ Insurance Fund, or they may apply to self-insure.
If you are injured on the job or become sick because of your job, workers’ compensation insurance will provide benefits for medical expenses and lost wages until you are able to return to work.
What if I am terminated after I start receiving workers’ compensation benefits?
Pennsylvania has “at-will” employment, which means that an employer may terminate an employee at any time. There are exceptions to this “at-will” termination. An employer may not terminate someone due to age, sexual orientation, religion, or as retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim or whistleblowing.
Therefore, an employee receiving workers’ compensation benefits may be fired or laid off for other reasons at any time, even during the time they are recovering from an injury and collecting workers’ compensation.
However, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a fired or laid off employee will continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are not contingent on employment. If an injury prevents you from working, you will continue to be entitled to lost wage benefits. Medical expenses will continue to be covered as well.
If you think you have been laid off as retaliation for your insurance claim or to deny your benefits, contact an experienced Gettysburg attorney at KBG Injury Law for legal counsel and guidance.
What if I quit my job while I am collecting workers’ compensation benefits?
Pennsylvania law does allow for workers to continue collecting workers’ compensation benefits if they should end their relationship with their employer. Workers’ compensation is based on employment at the time of the injury and is paid by the insurer, not the employer. However, resigning at this time may lead to questions from your employer or the insurance company. If you are considering quitting your job after you have been injured and are receiving benefits, it would be in your best interest to discuss your options with an experienced law firm, such as KBG Injury Law.
What happens if my employer goes out of business while I am collecting workers’ compensation benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits should continue if your employer goes out of business, even if they file for bankruptcy. The insurance company is the responsible party when it comes to making payments to injured workers. Unfortunately, mix-ups may happen, especially if a business closes their doors in an abrupt manner.
Paperwork can be misplaced, and claims might be delayed. An injury attorney can help manage the paperwork and any other details related to your claim if your employer should suddenly shut down. If you stop receiving benefits after your employer closes their doors, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Gettysburg workers’ compensation attorney to help you maneuver through the confusion and provide guidance and expertise so your benefits can be reinstated.
Can I file for unemployment while I’m receiving workers compensation benefits?
In Pennsylvania, workers can collect both unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time – but it’s tricky. As attorney Dean Dominick explains in a Q&A:
The workers’ compensation law does not prohibit the receipt of unemployment compensation benefits during the same period of receiving workers’ compensation. You are eligible to receive temporary total disability benefits from workers’ compensation as long as the healthcare provider notes you are unable to return to work, or are able to return to work with restrictions but your employer is unable or unwilling to accommodate your restrictions.
However, injured workers who have been laid off or fired cannot receive double benefits. As attorney Jennifer Kline explains in another Q&A, “The workers’ compensation carrier will be entitled to a credit for any regular state unemployment benefits you receive. If you are laid off, it is generally better to seek reinstatement of your workers’ compensation total disability benefits” than it is to seek unemployment.
In short? You can apply for unemployment, but you cannot double-dip. So, it may not be in your best interest to do so.
How can a Gettysburg workers’ compensation attorney help?
If you feel your workers’ compensation claim is on shaky ground due to termination by your employer, your employer shutting down, or you are thinking about quitting, you must find a qualified attorney who can help negotiate or litigate in these confusing scenarios.
The Gettysburg workers’ compensation attorneys at KBG Injury Law understand the complexities of the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws and they have the experience and expertise to successfully defend your interests. They understand the toll a work-related injury takes on your life and will work hard to ensure you secure the benefits to which you’re entitled for your injury and any lost wages that accompany it. Call our firm today at 717-848-3838, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We maintain additional offices in York, Lancaster, Hanover, and Harrisburg, PA.
The personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are all experienced litigators. Almost all of them represented insurance companies prior to becoming advocates for injured people, which provides them with a unique perspective and insight into how these companies operate. They also offer extensive courtroom experience if going to trial is the best legal alternative for the client.