The Pennsylvania Workers Compensation timeline is supposed to minimize hardships for workers hurt on the job in Pennsylvania. Benefits attach from the first day of injury, but wage loss benefits for the first seven days will only be paid if more than fourteen days are lost. If you are disabled for more than eight but fewer than fourteen total days due to work injury, only days 8 through 14 will be compensated under the Act. If you miss more than fourteen days of work (not necessarily all in a row), the insurer must pay the compensation for the first seven days.
The employer and insurer have twenty-one days to accept or deny a claim from the date notice is given. For a wage loss claim, benefits should be started within that time frame. It is therefore very important that the injured worker give the employer notice of his or her work-injury. The notice should be to a supervisor, manager or owner, and should relate how the injury happened and what parts of the body are affected.
If your claim is accepted, you should get more than just a letter from your employer's insurance company. For your rights to be recognized, they need to file with the PA Bureau of Workers' Compensation a formal notice, and serve a copy of that notice on you to show that they have filed it. This would be in the form of either a Notice of Compensation Payable (which gives you long-term, enforceable rights) OR a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable (which allows for the payment of benefits on a temporary basis but does not really give you any legal rights, since it means your employer and their insurance company have not admitted any legal responsibility to you for your work injury).
If your claim is not formally accepted within twenty-one days after you notified the employer of your work injury, this acts as a "denial by operation of law" and it is recommended that you immediately seek advice as to your specific legal rights, and how to best advance and protect your valuable workers compensation rights. You may need to advance your rights by having an attorney, ideally a certified specialist in PA workers' compensation law like Tim Kennedy, file a Claim Petition on your behalf. You may start even sooner with a Claim Petition if your employer has given you reason to believe your claim will be disputed or denied, or at times even where the claim is accepted but under terms which are unfair to you -- such as when your empoyer or its insurance company admit your injury but call it a "medical only" claim when the injury results in disability, or where the employer files documents with an improperly narrow "description of injury" and related factors make litigation the best course).
When your employer denies your claim and forces you to pursue a Claim Petition, the amount of time it may take to get on benefits varies greatly. An aggressive attorney with sound evidence and medical support can often influence the outcome relatively quickly. Sometimes, merely having an attorney "enter an appearance" on your claim can get the employer and insurance company to comply with the Act and influence them to accept your claim, without any dispute in court and without triggering any cost, expense of attorneys fee interest. Other times, the attorney may recommend filing a Claim Petition, which generally results in a hearing listing within less than a month from the date of filing. Your attorneys efforts in presenting evidence at that hearing shows the employer and the insurer, not to mention the Judge, the "writing on the wall" in such a way that the claim may at times then be quickly resolved and benefits started. A good attorney will often try to effect this with a draft Stipulation, perhaps reserving for later day arguments about important but not crucial factors such as the full scope of your work injury, while gaining quick acceptance of your basic right to be paid for wage loss, medical billing and prescriptions. This can give you a way to pay your family's bills without a long-term dispute. A good attorney will work to find ways to get you on benefits as early as possible and in a way that best preserves your near-term and long-term rights, avoiding unnecessary dispute, and will discuss you at each juncture what options are available.
Of course, the best way to protect against a long delay and extended battle over your right to compensation is to have solid evidence early, of a kind the insurance carrier cannot help but recognize. This is best done by getting the earliest possible advice from the Law Offices of Timothy Kennedy, so that we can discuss with you every move an insurance carrier or its operatives (including company doctors, nurse case managers, adjusters and insurance attorneys) may make, so that you know how best to respond. This makes a huge difference, and may cause your employer and its insurer to recognize rights they may have preferred to ignore or fight about. Early intervention can help avoid your claim being disputed. It can get you paid sooner rather than later.
These same efforts, taken to protect your rights early in your claim, can also position you for a valuable lump sum settlement of your workers' compensation rights.
Remember our motto: YOUR WORK INJURY GIVES YOU RIGHTS!
Don't be pushed around. Don't be made to wait for rights that should be recognized now. Call the Law Offices of Timothy Kennedy for a free consultation about your workers' compensation rights today. 484-453-811. We charge no fee unless we first secure rights for you, and we advance all costs needed to fight your claim. If you don't get paid, we don't get paid.