Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s Compensation Defense

Bingaman, Hess, Coblentz & Bell’s Workers’ Compensation defense team works primarily with insurance carriers, mutual associations and self-insured businesses to offer legal defense strategies for Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claims. We believe in a proactive and aggressive response to workplace injury claims. Whether the claim involves a fall at work, a repetitive trauma claim such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or a stress-related heart attack, our lawyers aggressively defend your business and its insurance carrier against non-compensable or fraudulent claims. We also defend businesses facing general liability lawsuits.

Litigation in the area of workers’ compensation is expensive and the cost of covering workplace injuries is even more so. As a result, resolution of claims may be best accomplished without protracted litigation. We therefore assist our clients in providing recommendations intended to reduce their overall exposure. However, when litigation becomes necessary, we offer an aggressive strategy and have years of successful trial experience in all venues throughout Pennsylvania. We make definitive, logical recommendations to our insurance clients, so they, in turn, can make appropriate recommendations to their clients in the handling of all claims.

We advise all employers and insurers on the multifaceted aspects of claims filed by injured employees, including disability and employment issues. The Workers’ Compensation defense team is a subset of the Insurance Defense Section with litigators experienced in all administrative agencies and state and federal courts. We have extensive knowledge and understanding of the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws and its regulations. With our experienced attorneys, and a support staff dedicated to workers’ compensation defense, we primarily serve clients throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, including Berks County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Schuylkill County, Luzerne County, Lehigh County, Carbon County, Lebanon County and Lancaster County. Above all, we are proud to be one of the only law firms in Berks County who represents local businesses and insurance carriers in the defense of workers’ compensation claims.

Workers’ Compensation Questions

What is workers’ compensation?

In Pennsylvania, the Workers’ Compensation Act provides injured workers with the right to collect wage loss and medical benefits for injuries sustained in the course and scope of employment.

Who pays my workers’ compensation benefits?

Workers’ Compensation benefits are typically paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, or if self-insured, the employer itself.

What type of injury is covered?

Workers’ Compensation covers most, but not all work-related injuries. Injuries can range from a fall at work to a repetitive stress illness, such as a heart attack. However, your injury may not be compensable if it is intentionally self-inflicted or the result of the employee’s violation of the law, such as intoxication.

Are there time limits to report an injury?

Notice of an injury should be reported to your employer as soon as possible. Unless the injury is obvious or the employer has notice of the injury, notice must be given no later than 120 days after the injury. If you provide notice of the injury after 21 days, but before 120 days, no compensation will be paid until actual notice is given to the employer.

What type of benefits do I receive?

Assuming you timely report your work injury to your employer, you may be entitled to wage loss and medical benefits. Payment of wage loss benefits varies from whether you are totally disabled from the work injury or whether you have returned to work in some fashion such that you may be considered partially disabled. Wage loss benefits are equal to approximately two-thirds of your average weekly wage. Payment of medical benefits by the employer may not mean that your claim has been accepted.

What happens if the employer and its insurance carrier deny liability?

Generally, within 21 days form the date the employee provides notification of a work injury, the employer/carrier is required to either accept or deny liability for the injury. If the employer/carrier denies liability for an injury you deem work-related, it may be necessary to file a Claim Petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

How does a case get assigned to a Workers’ Compensation Judge?

Once a petition is filed by either the injured worker, employer or insurance carrier, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation assigns the petition to a Workers’ Compensation Judge. The case is assigned to a Workers’ Compensation Judge who hears cases generally in the county in which the employee resides.

What types of petitions are filed with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation?

There are several types of petitions that are assigned to Workers’ Compensation Judges, which may include the following:

Claim Petition: a Claim Petition is filed by an employee who seeks workers’ compensation benefits for a disputed work injury.

Suspension Petition: a Suspension Petition is filed by the employer or its insurance carrier, where it is alleged that the injured employee is not fully recovered, but has returned to work without a loss of earnings or is capable of returning to work without a loss of earnings.

Termination Petition: a Termination Petition is filed by the employer or its insurance carrier, where it is alleged that the injured employee is fully recovered from the work-related injury.

Modification Petition: a Modification Petition is filed by the employer or its insurance carrier, where it is alleged that the injured employee, though not fully recovered, has returned to work with some loss of earnings, or is capable of returning to work with some loss of earnings.

Compromise and Release Petition: Every workers’ compensation settlement must be approved by a Workers’ Compensation Judge. This petition is filed by either party to ask a Workers’ Compensation Judge to approve a proposed settlement.

Do I need an attorney?

While there is no requirement that an injured worker retain an attorney in order to participate in workers’ compensation proceedings, it is certainly recommended given the complex litigation of workers’ compensation law.