Lump Sum Settlements • Return to Work Issues • Wage Claims • Medical Expenses
• Modification, Suspension & Termination Petitions
Not necessarily. Unfortunately, unless you are a union member or have an employment contract, your receipt of workers' compensation benefits does not necessarily protect your job or other employee benefits such as health insurance. We reside in an employment-at-will state so an employer is not obligated to leave your job open forever. As a result, if you are out of work and receiving workers' compensation benefits, your employer may be able to fire you or lay you off if they cannot reasonably accommodate your physical restrictions. However, an employer cannot fire you or lay you off solely because you made a workers' compensation claim. In addition, an employer does not have to maintain your health insurance or other benefits while you are receiving workers' compensation benefits. You may, for example, receive what is called a COBRA Notice, allowing you to pay for medical insurance at your own expense. If you do, you should discuss this with your attorney.
In the event that you have been released to return to work in some fashion, but you have not yet fully recovered from your work injuries, your employer is permitted to offer you employment in order to bring you back to work. If you return to work, your employer and its insurance carrier will be able to stop your wage loss benefits, or modify those benefits, so that the impact in terms of workers' compensation payments would be decreased. In this particular situation, your employer can essentially offer you any form of employment they so choose, in order to bring you back to work. They do not have to bring you back to your pre-injury position, especially if that position is beyond your physical restrictions. The crucial issue is whether or not you are earning equal to or in excess of your pre-injury wages. If you are earning equal to or in excess of your pre-injury wages, your workers' compensation indemnity benefits or wage loss checks could be stopped or suspended. If, on the other hand, you are earning less than your pre-injury wages, you will be entitled to 2/3 of the difference between your Average Weekly Wage, as compared to the wages you are actually earning.
Yes. You may be able to receive Social Security Disability, Unemployment Compensation or other benefits as a result of your injury (and possibly because of other conditions you may have). In some cases, if you receive these benefits, either your workers' compensation or the other benefits will be reduced. Regardless, injured workers should speak with an attorney to determine if they can receive Social Security, unemployment or disability benefits, and how these benefits may integrate with your receipt of workers' compensation benefits.
If you have been injured at work, you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who understands the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act and all of the regulations that your employer, and their insurance company, will never adequately explain to you. Certified as a specialist in the practice of workers' compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Section on Workers' Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Attorney Gary Monaghan is the man you want by your side.