Work Comp in Pennsylvania: Behind the Numbers

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Every year, a large number of workers in Pennsylvania sustain some form of work-related injury or illness. Although the majority of these injuries are non-lethal, that doesn’t mean they can’t come to dictate the course of a person’s future.

As a banal example, let’s say that a workplace incident resulted in the loss of a limb. Even if the person’s workplace amputation lawyer in Philadelphia, PA helps them secure the maximum possible compensation, the said person’s life will never be the same again.

The fact is, even with the ongoing efforts to improve workplace safety, injuries remain a (too) common occurrence. The question is: to what extent? To answer this question, we’ll take a deep look at work comp cases in Pennsylvania through the prism of statistical data.

What are the most recent statistics on workplace injuries in Philadelphia & PA?

The extent of the impact of personal injuries can be roughly extrapolated from three main statistics: incidence rates, settlement values, and work comp lawyers’ fees.

What is the incidence of occupational injuries?

What are the most common injuries in the workplace

In 2021, Pennsylvania reported a substantial number of workplace injuries, with a total of 161,592 incidents. Not all of these cases ended up requiring legal intervention, but a significant portion did involve some level of legal proceedings.

Specifically, about 22% of these incidents (approximately 35,599 cases) were serious enough to be brought before Workers’ Compensation Judges in Pennsylvania, suggesting a relatively high level of disputes or complexity in these cases​, 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, Philadelphia saw a significant number of workplace injuries. Statewide, there were 123,400 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported, with an incidence rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers, reflecting a persistent challenge in occupational health despite advances in workplace safety protocols​​.

What are the most common injuries in the workplace?

The most common cause of non-fatal injuries that resulted in days missed from work across the United States was slips, trips, and falls, accounting for 18% of such injuries. This type of accident underscores the ongoing need for improved workplace safety measures and training​​.

How much are most personal injury settlements?

When it comes to settlements for work-related injuries, the compensation value can vary widely depending on the severity and nature of the injury. For example, amputations are among the most costly injuries, averaging $118,837 per case. Other significant injuries include fractures or dislocations, which average around $60,934, and other forms of trauma at a similar cost level​.

This data illustrates the critical importance of robust workplace safety standards and comprehensive employee training to mitigate these risks. Despite the ongoing efforts to enhance worker safety, the consistent injury rates suggest that there is still considerable room for improvement in the systems meant to protect workers.

How much does it cost to hire a lawyer in Pennsylvania?

Regarding the legal representation in workers’ compensation claims, it is quite common for injured workers to seek legal help, particularly when the cases involve serious injuries or disputes over benefits. Workers’ compensation attorneys in Pennsylvania typically handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, charging around 20% of any settlement or award. This arrangement means that the lawyers only get paid if they win the case, which can make legal representation accessible to injured workers who might otherwise be unable to afford it​​.

This system ensures that workers have the opportunity to obtain fair representation without the need for upfront payment, thus aligning the interests of the attorney with the outcomes of the worker’s claim. It also reflects the complexities and challenges within the workers’ compensation system, where professional legal assistance can significantly influence the resolution of a claim.

Where to find a dependable workplace amputation lawyer near me in Philadelphia, PA?

How much does it cost to hire a lawyer in Pennsylvania

Liberty Bell is your prime destination for all-encompassing legal aid regarding workers’ compensation in the larger Philadelphia Metro area. Our team consists of experienced specialists with an impressive track record of success, whose joint efforts resulted in over $1 billion in recovered benefits for our clients.

Today, our combined legal prowess, personalized attention, and fierce advocacy are at your disposal, ready to help you make the best of a challenging situation. Reach out to us today, schedule your FREE consultation, and let us guide your case to the most satisfying conclusion.

Summary of Recent Workers’ Compensation Legislation in the State of Pennsylvania

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Recent legislative changes to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act have introduced several significant reforms aimed at addressing the challenges of managing healthcare costs and opioid abuse within the system. These reforms are designed to balance cost control with the need to provide quality care and support to injured workers in the state of Pennsylvania.

However, admirable as they may be, these efforts still leave much to be desired. The reform still makes it difficult to navigate the systems, especially for individuals who sustained a severe injury (e.g. loss of a limb still requires the guidance of an experienced workplace amputation attorney in Philadelphia, PA) while imposing additional limitations.

Fortunately, there are some positives to the recent legislation, too. Today, we’re going to explore the most impactful key points, as well as the pros and cons, so you can gain a comprehensive insight into the process.

Key Aspects of the Recent Legislation

The three major aspects the recent reform targeted concern the managed care period, opioid misuse among injured workers, and the reimbursement of costs for medical marijuana (MM).

Managed Care Options

Key Aspects of the Recent Legislation

The legislation extends the period during which employers can direct an injured worker to receive treatment from specific provider networks. This period has been increased progressively over the years from 14 to 30, and now to 90 days, reflecting a wider trend to align with national standards on managed care.

This approach is intended to streamline healthcare delivery and ensure high standards of care by utilizing approved networks that coordinate effectively to prevent deemed unnecessary or duplicative treatments​​.

Opioid Management

In response to the opioid crisis, the legislation has introduced specific measures to curb the misuse and abuse of opioids among injured workers. It has established opioid use risk safety committees, which play a critical role in overseeing and providing information on the risks associated with opioid painkiller use with injured workers in the workplace. These committees are part of a broader strategy to promote safer, more responsible management of pain treatment​​.

Medical Marijuana Regulation

Another notable aspect of the reform is its approach to medical marijuana (MM). The legislation clarifies that employers and insurers are not required to cover or reimburse the costs of MM. This aligns with existing policies that exclude medical marijuana from mandatory health coverage,  avoiding potential legal and financial complexities associated with its use​​.

Pros & Cons of the Legislation

With the major key points explained, it’s time to see which advantages and disadvantages the recent legislative change brings:

Pros of the Legislation:

  • Cost Efficiency: By allowing employers to use specific healthcare networks for a defined period, the legislation allegedly helps control medical costs associated with workers’ compensation claims.
  • Quality of Care: Networks are selected based on quality and cost-effectiveness, ensuring that injured workers receive appropriate care without unnecessary procedures.
  • Safety and Awareness: The focus on managing and closely overseeing opioid use reflects a commitment to worker safety and public health, addressing a critical issue affecting many sectors.

Cons of the Legislation:

  • Limited Provider Choice: Workers may face restrictions on their ability to choose their healthcare providers during the initial treatment period, which could affect their satisfaction and the personalization of their care.
  • Potential Coverage Gaps: The exclusion of medical marijuana coverage might limit treatment options for some workers who do not respond well to other forms of pain management.

Overall Impact

The legislation predominantly benefits employers and insurance companies by helping to control costs and manage risks associated with workers’ compensation claims. However, it also includes provisions aimed at ensuring quality and efficient care for workers, although it imposes certain restrictions on their choice of treatment providers.

Summary of Recent Workers' Compensation Legislation in the State of Pennsylvania

While these reforms are designed to optimize the workers’ compensation system’s efficiency and safety, the reduced flexibility for workers highlights the ongoing challenge of balancing cost control with individual care needs.

The reforms in Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation legislation represent a complex interplay between cost management, quality of care, and regulatory compliance, aiming to adapt to the evolving healthcare landscape while hopefully addressing the impact on both employer concerns and worker welfare in an equitable way.

Where can I find a reliable workplace amputation attorney near me in Philadelphia, PA?

At Liberty Bell, you can find some of the finest workers’ compensation lawyers on either side of the Schuylkill River and beyond. With extensive knowledge of the State’s laws, thousands of successful cases behind their backs, and proven strategies tailored to each individual’s unique circumstances, we have everything you need to drive your case to a favorable outcome.

Reach out to us today to schedule your FREE, no-obligation consultation!

No-Fault Work Injury Claims vs. Third-Party Liability Claims in Allentown

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How are Worker's Compensation claims handled

When an employee gets injured on the job in Allentown, or anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania, they generally have two main types of claims to consider: Workers’ Compensation and third-party liability claims.

These claims serve different purposes and are handled through different systems. Workers’ Compensation claims are handled through the Dept. of Work Comp. However, 3rd party liability claims are handled through the “at fault” system, like any other personal injury claim.

What this means is that if, for example, a worker injures their back while performing work duties, their Allentown back/neck injury lawyers can offer three courses of action: file a work comp claim, take the case to the civil court, or both. Today, we’ll break down how each situation is handled.

How are Worker’s Compensation claims handled?

The purpose of the Workers’ Compensation system is to provide benefits to employees who get injured on the job, regardless of who was at fault. The benefits typically cover medical expenses, reimbursement for gas to all appointments, travel to and from any appointments if they do not have a car and are too injured to use public transportation, a portion of lost wages, and sometimes rehabilitation costs.

Work Comp process

The injured worker must report the injury to their employer promptly, often within a specific timeframe (in Pennsylvania, you have 120 days to report the injury to receive benefits). The employer then reports the injury to their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier. The claim is processed according to Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation laws. Disputes over benefits may require hearings before a Workers’ Compensation Judge.

Limitations of the Work Comp system

By accepting Workers’ Compensation, employees generally forfeit the right to sue their employer for the injury, with few exceptions. This system creates a no-fault framework to ensure employees receive timely benefits without proving employer negligence. The no-fault system pays far less compensation than an at-fault third-party claim due to the system being responsible for making an injured worker as “whole” as possible, even in the event they suffered a catastrophic injury that was the injured worker’s own fault. 

What is a Third-Party Liability Claim?

These claims allow injured workers to seek compensation from parties other than their employer who may have contributed to their injury. For example, if a defective piece of equipment caused the injury, the employee might have a claim against the manufacturer. Or, if they are a driver for a living and are rear-ended or side-swiped by a third party, that liability would be a 3rd party claim against the negligence of the driver. 

3rd party liability process

The injured worker can file a lawsuit against the third party in civil court. Unlike Workers’ Compensation, the employee must prove that the third party was at fault due to negligence or other wrongful actions.

Advantages of 3rd party liability claims

The biggest benefit of third-party claims is that it can provide compensation for damages not covered by Workers’ Compensation, such as pain and suffering, full lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity.

Handling Both Claims Together

When an employee in Allentown is injured on the job and both a Workers’ Compensation claim and a third-party liability claim are viable, they can proceed with both simultaneously. However, there are important considerations:

No-Fault Work Injury Claims vs Third-Party Liability Claims in Allentown
  • Subrogation: If you receive a settlement or award from a third-party claim, the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier may have a right to be reimbursed for benefits they paid out from that settlement, a process known as subrogation. Pennsylvania law dictates how this is handled, aiming to ensure that the injured worker is not unjustly enriched but, also, not left worse off after pursuing a third-party claim.
  • Legal Representation: Given the complexity of handling both claims, especially considering subrogation rights and the intricate details of proving negligence in third-party claims, it’s highly advisable to work with an attorney. A lawyer specializing in personal injury and Workers’ Compensation can navigate both claims, negotiate with insurance companies, and work to maximize the overall compensation the injured worker receives.

Which Allentown back neck injury lawyers near me are a reliable choice?

Liberty Bell comprises some of the finest work comp and personal injury specialists on either side of the Lehigh River. With decades’ worth of experience and a long-standing reputation for reliability, we are your trusted partners in realizing your law-given rights. Reach out to us today and let us secure the maximum settlement value possible for your case!

Constraints of Total Temporary Disability Benefits System in Pennsylvania

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There’s no denying the fact that the Workers’ Compensation system can be incredibly beneficial to individuals injured on the job. However, with the number of incidents that happen daily, the system must also protect itself to give everyone a fair chance at receiving adequate benefits. 

Unfortunately, this also imposes limitations on total temporary disability (TTD) benefits that a person can receive. Furthermore, these constraints aren’t immediately obvious, unless you enlist the assistance of experienced legal professionals, such as Allentown back/neck injury attorneys, for instance.

That’s why, today, we’re exploring how the PA Workers’ Compensation Board handles TTD cases and what it means for individuals who suffered the most severe injuries while performing their work duties.

Does the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Board have a limitation on the amount of total temporary disability benefits?

Yes, in Pennsylvania, as in other states, there are limitations on the amount of total temporary disability (TTD) benefits that an injured worker can receive under the Workers’ Compensation system. These limitations are primarily in the form of maximum and minimum compensation rates that are set annually based on the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW), and largely have to do with how much the injured worker was earning at the time of their injury. 

Does the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Board have a limitation on the amount of total temporary disability benefits

Maximum TTD Compensation Rate

The maximum TTD compensation rate is a percentage of the SAWW and is intended to cap the weekly amount an injured worker can receive as TTD benefits. Each year, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry determines this rate, which applies to injuries occurring in that year. For workers who earn above a certain amount, their TTD benefits cannot exceed the set maximum, even if it is less than two-thirds of their actual wages. In this way, TTD benefits being capped out by the state can severely diminish a high earner’s income while they are on TTD. 

Minimum Compensation Rate

Similarly, there is a minimum compensation rate of 2/3rds the current pay of the injured worker, which ensures that workers receive at least a minimum level of benefits, regardless of their wage at the time of injury. However, if a worker’s wages are very low, their benefits may be calculated as a percentage of their actual wages rather than being subject to the minimum rate. In this case, Pennsylvania is one of the top states for injured workers. 

Duration of Benefits

While there might not be a specific time limit for how long TTD benefits can last, the duration can be affected by various factors, such as:

  • The injured worker’s recovery and ability to return to work.
  • Whether the worker is deemed to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning their condition is not expected to significantly improve with further treatment.
  • The transition from temporary disability benefits to permanent disability benefits if the injury results in permanent impairments. In this case, the financial benefits could be for life.

Annual Adjustments

It’s important to note that the maximum and minimum compensation rates are adjusted annually to reflect changes in the statewide average weekly wage. This adjustment ensures that the Workers’ Compensation benefits somewhat keep pace with inflation and wage growth over time, otherwise known as Cost of Living Adjustments or (COLA)

For the most current and accurate rates and specific details about how these limitations might apply to an individual work injury case, it’s advisable to consult the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s website.

It is even more advisable to speak with a legal professional specializing in Workers’ Compensation law in Pennsylvania, as they can provide up-to-date information and guidance based on the latest laws and regulations.

Which Allentown back neck injury attorneys near me can help me realize maximum benefits?

Constraints of Total Temporary Disability Benefits System in Pennsylvania

At Liberty Bell, we believe that you deserve maximum compensation if your work-related injury resulted in TTD, regardless of who’s at fault for the incident. We’re ready to put all our collective expertise to work – all 20+ years of it – to ensure you get the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Count on us to offer mindful guidance throughout the process, from filing a work comp claim to the final settlement, so that you can enjoy a stress-free recovery. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation at our offices near Allentown Art Museum and let our team secure your brighter future!

Act 57 of 1996: The Turning Point of PA’s Workers’ Compensation

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One of the most influential pieces of legislation affecting the Worker’s Compensation system in Pennsylvania is the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act itself, initially passed in 1915. This foundational law established the framework for the state’s Worker’s Compensation system, fundamentally changing how claims are processed, evaluated, and compensated.

However, for a more specific example of legislative change that has significantly impacted the system, we can look at amendments made to the Act over the years, with a notable one being the changes introduced in 1996 under Act 57.

While this piece of legislation steered some aspects of the process in the right direction, it also introduced new complexities. Individuals who sustained a workplace injury, especially a serious one, such as a back or neck injury, still require the assistance of lawyers in Allentown to navigate the system.

Act 57 of 1996: Major Amendments to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act

Act 57 of 1996 was designed to reform the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system with the intention of reducing insurance premiums for employers while still maintaining fair benefits for workers injured on the job. It introduced several significant changes to how benefits are calculated and how disputes are resolved, among other aspects.

Pros of Act 57:

The Impact of Act 57
  • Cost Reduction for Employers: One of the main goals was to control and potentially lower Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums for employers, making the state more economically competitive. By introducing mechanisms for dispute resolution and encouraging the settlement of cases, it aimed to reduce the system’s overall costs.
  • Introduction of Impairment Rating Evaluations (IREs): Act 57 introduced the use of IREs to assess the degree of impairment due to a workplace injury. If a worker was found to be less than 50% impaired according to the American Medical Association guidelines, their benefits could be capped, encouraging return to work when possible.
  • Expansion of Vocational Rehabilitation Services: The Act aimed to facilitate the return to work for injured employees by expanding access to vocational rehabilitation services, potentially reducing the time workers spend out of work.
  • Strengthening of Safety Programs: It incentivized employers to adopt workplace safety programs by offering insurance premium discounts, contributing to a decrease in workplace injuries.

Cons of Act 57:

  • Controversy Over IREs: The use of IREs to cap benefits was highly controversial and seen by critics as detrimental to the welfare of severely injured workers. It placed a significant emphasis on a numerical threshold for impairment, which some argued did not adequately reflect a worker’s actual ability to return to work or live without the support of their benefits.
  • Potential for Reduced Benefits: While aiming to balance employer costs with fair worker compensation, critics argue that the changes might lead to reduced benefits for workers, particularly those with long-term or permanent disabilities.
  • Complexity and Litigation: The changes introduced by Act 57, particularly around IREs and the process for challenging these evaluations, added layers of complexity to the Workers’ Compensation process, potentially leading to increased litigation and difficulty for workers in navigating the system.

Legal Challenges and Adjustments

The implementation of IREs under Act 57 faced significant legal challenges, leading to notable decisions by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In 2017, the court case of “Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board” deemed the IRE provision unconstitutional because it delegated the General Assembly’s authority to the American Medical Association, which determines the impairment standards. This decision prompted further legislative and legal adjustments.

The Impact of Act 57

Act 57 of 1996 Major Amendments to the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act

Act 57 of 1996 represents a pivotal moment in the history of Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation system, reflecting the ongoing tension between controlling costs for employers and providing fair, adequate benefits for injured workers.

Its long-term impact illustrates the complexities of balancing these interests within a system designed to protect workers from the financial hardships of work-related injuries and illnesses.

Where to find well-versed back & neck injury lawyers near me in Allentown?

Liberty Bell is Allentown’s leading team of workers’ compensation attorneys, dedicated to providing personalized representation to injured workers throughout the region. Whether you need assistance filing the claim or assertive representation in and out of court, we possess the experience and expertise to see your case through to a beneficial conclusion. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation at our offices on Hamilton Street and let us ensure your rights are protected!

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in PA: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Filing a Worker’s Compensation claim in Philadelphia and Allentown involves several steps and adhering to specific timelines, including the statute of limitations. The process is designed to ensure that injured workers receive the necessary medical treatment and compensation for lost wages due to work-related injuries or illnesses. 

While streamlined, the process can still be confusing, especially if you’re a first-time filer. Therefore, whether you’re filing for a back or neck injury, attorneys in Allentown should always be consulted for guidance to ensure timely action that will result in fair compensation.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania?

The filing process in Pennsylvania involves several specific steps, as follows:

How to File a Workers' Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania
  1. Report the Injury: An injured worker must report their injury or illness to their employer or supervisor as soon as possible. Pennsylvania law requires that this report be made within 120 days of the injury. However, to ensure the best chance of receiving benefits, reporting immediately is advisable.
  2. Employer’s Responsibility: Upon receiving notification of the injury, the employer is required to report it to their Worker’s Compensation insurance carrier. The employer should also provide the injured worker with a form to seek medical treatment if necessary.
  3. Medical Treatment: Initially, the injured worker may be required to see a doctor from a list provided by the employer or their insurance carrier for the first 90 days after the injury. After this period, the worker can choose their doctor.
  4. Claim Filing by the Insurance Company: The insurance company will file a First Report of Injury with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. The insurer will then investigate the claim to decide on approving or denying the compensation.
  5. Receiving a Decision: The insurance company must issue a decision within 21 days of being notified of the injury. If the claim is approved, benefits will start to be paid. If the claim is denied, the worker has the right to appeal.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for filing a claim petition for Worker’s Compensation benefits in Pennsylvania is three years from the date of the injury. This means if the insurance company denies the claim, or if certain benefits are disputed, the injured worker has up to three years to file a formal claim petition.

Duration of Total Temporary Disability (TTD) Benefits

In Pennsylvania, there is no specific maximum time limit for collecting TTD benefits. An injured worker can continue to receive these benefits as long as they are considered totally disabled and unable to work. However, the employer or their insurance carrier can request an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE), as per Act 57 of 1996, after the worker has received 104 weeks of total disability benefits to assess if the worker is at least 50% impaired according to the American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines, which could potentially change the status of benefits.

Average Whole-Person Impairment & Settlements

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Specific statistics on the average whole-person impairment for injured workers in Pennsylvania are not typically published as they vary widely depending on the individual case, type of injury, and severity.

Similarly, average settlement amounts for Worker’s Compensation cases in Pennsylvania can vary significantly. Settlements depend on numerous factors, including:

  • The severity of the injury;
  • Worker’s age;
  • Wage rate;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Extent of disability.

As such, there is no one “average” settlement figure that accurately represents all cases. Settlements can range from a few thousand dollars for minor injuries to substantial six-figure amounts for severe or permanent disabilities.

Where to find assertive back & neck injury attorneys near me in Allentown?

Just a few blocks away from the PPL Center Arena, in the very heart of Hamilton District, you can find some of the finest work injury lawyers in all of Allentown – Liberty Bell. Our specialists have extensive experience and can provide advice tailored to your specific situation helping you navigate the intricacies of the claims process with the utmost ease. Contact us today and let us advocate for your rights to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

The Origins & Evolution of The Workers’ Compensation System: A Comprehensive Analysis

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The concept of a system designed to provide financial and medical care to all employees who have suffered on-the-job injuries isn’t new. In fact, it has a long and very complex history that spans several millennia.

However, it is only over the past century that it became crystalized into what it is today: a set of comprehensive Workers’ Compensation laws that every work injury lawyer in Philadelphia adheres to.

Today, we’ll explore how the work comp system evolved over the decades, comparing its modern iterations to its original, 100+ years old form to give you insight into the ever-changing legal landscape of injured workers’ rights.

Workers’ Compensation Laws Are Over 4,000 Years Old

In virtually every state, including Pennsylvania, you may collect monetary compensation for work injuries resulting in “specific losses”, such as the loss of a limb or eye, for which you may collect only the benefits outlined in a schedule. These benefits are different from the normal situation in which you suffer a work-related injury and receive wage replacement benefits during the time that you are unable to work because of the injury. 

Scheduled specific loss benefits are the earliest form of monetary compensation provided to injured workers. The earliest recorded description of a workers’ compensation law dates to the year 2050 B.C. when Ur-Nammu, the King of the city-state of Ur, passed a law that provided monetary compensation for injuries to worker’s body parts, including fractures.

Hammurabi’s code contained a similar set of provisions. Virtually every ancient culture passed laws that provided compensation schedules of this type. The specific loss provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, therefore, have roots in laws passed 4,000 years ago.

The Birth of Workers’ Compensation: Early Years

Origins & Evolution of The Workers' Compensation System

The idea of compensating workers for work-related injuries has deep roots. Various societies throughout history have attempted to enact efforts to provide support to injured workers, most often through community-based or employer-sponsored arrangements.

Unfortunately, these early systems were inconsistent and lacked the comprehensive equitable approach that modern workers’ compensation laws offer injured workers.

The First Workers’ Compensation Laws

The United States can trace the birth of modern workers’ compensation laws to the late 19th and early 20th centuries when industrialization and the rise of factories were rapidly expanding, leading to an increase in workplace injuries. The first state to enact workers’ compensation laws to help injured workers was Wisconsin.

Wisconsin (1911)

In the year 1911, Wisconsin passed the United States of America’s first comprehensive workers’ compensation laws. Championed by progressive leaders, this legislation was groundbreaking in its approach. Key features of the Wisconsin worker’s Compensation laws included:

  • No-Fault System: Workers did not need to prove their employer’s negligence to receive benefits. Instead, benefits were provided regardless of fault. It was a huge win for injured workers, having to not worry about proving third-party liability to receive benefits.
  • Medical Care: State workers were entitled to receive necessary medical treatment for their injuries, based on the nature and circumstances surrounding the incident.
  • Disability Benefits: Compensation was provided for temporary and permanent disabilities, as well as for vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation was a huge positive step, considering many people who were injured on the job would be unable to go back to that job. Vocational rehabilitation allowed them to start a new career.
  • Death Benefits: In the unfortunate event of an on-the-job fatality, the dependents of the deceased worker were eligible for benefits.
  • State Administration: The workers’ compensation system was administered by the state and limited individual litigation between employers and employees, creating a more predictable, equitable, and continuous workers’ compensation process.

The Evolution of Workers’ Compensation Laws in The United States of America

Since Wisconsin’s enacting & pioneering workers’ compensation legislation, similar laws have been enacted throughout the United States. Even though each state has its own workers comp system, some common principles and trends have helped to shape the modern landscape of workers’ compensation.

Expanding Coverage

Over the past several years, workers’ compensation laws have expanded to cover a broader range of workers and on-the-job injuries. Initially, in the early days, these laws primarily applied to industrial and manual labor workers. Today, they now almost always include office workers, service industry employees, and more.

Benefit Adjustments

Benefit levels have been adjusted to keep pace with changes in the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and medical care. Many states have also reformed their methods of calculating premiums to ensure fair compensation for all injured workers, no matter what line of work the employee was engaged in.

Medical Care

The provision of medical care has remained a core component of workers’ compensation. However, the management and State regulation of medical treatment has evolved immensely with time, with some states establishing networks and/or guidelines to control costs and ensure quality care for employees injured on the job.

Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution mechanisms, such as mediation and arbitration, have been introduced to expedite workers’ compensation claim resolution and reduce the time and resources the court system had previously been burdened with.

Occupational Diseases

As our understanding of occupational diseases has evolved over time, workers’ compensation laws have adapted to include compensation for illnesses resulting from workplace exposures including chemical exposure, viruses, and life-threatening bacterial infections.

Return-to-Work Programs

Vocational rehabilitation and return-to-work programs have become much more common, helping injured workers re-enter the workforce with proper training, allowing them to be qualified for new careers and jobs in the workforce.

Advocacy and Legal Representation

Workers have gained greater access to workers’ compensation legal representation to help them navigate the complexities and nuances of the system and advocate for their rights.

Challenges and Controversies

While workers’ compensation laws have evolved to better protect employees in all the US states, extreme controversies and monumental challenges persist. Some of the ongoing issues include:

Coverage Gaps

Certain categories of workers, such as gig economy workers and undocumented immigrants, still face challenges in accessing workers’ compensation benefits. States do a terrific job holding employers accountable for work injuries, even if they are not covered through workers’ compensation. Many states also will force employers to provide benefits if they are properly classified as a 1099 contractor.

Benefit Reductions

In many states, injured worker’s benefit reductions and restrictions have been and are still being proposed or implemented as a cost-saving measure, leading to concerns about adequate medical care and financial compensation for injured workers.

Medical Provider Networks

The use of Medical Provider Networks (MPNs) has raised concerns about the impartiality and quality of medical care, echoing similar issues to those experienced in the past. MPNs are probably one of the biggest bones of contention in the Worker’s Compensation system. Many believe the insurance companies have used them to abuse the system by “stacking the deck” with doctors who advocate on their behalf, rather than the injured workers.

Legal Battles

The workers’ compensation system remains a battleground for legal disputes throughout the United States, with both injured workers and employers sometimes facing challenges in the claims process in a workers’ compensation claims.

The state of the modern-day Workers’ Compensation system

Workers' Compensation Laws in The United States America

Workers’ compensation in the United States of America has come a long way since its inception in Wisconsin in 1911. The enacted workers’ compensation laws have provided a safety net for millions of workers, ensuring that they receive quality & timely medical care and financial support when they suffer an on-the-job injury. Over time, these laws have evolved immensely, adapting to the changing nature of work and the needs of injured workers.

Despite these advancements, challenges and controversies unfortunately persist. The ongoing contention between insurance companies and applicant lawyers highlights the importance of continually assessing and improving these systems to ensure they provide fair and effective support to all injured workers throughout the United States, simultaneously protecting them from the greed and unscrupulous tactics the insurance companies have become known for.

Where to find an adept work injury lawyer near me in Philadelphia?

With the expansion of legal mills and inexperienced lawyers, finding a place that provides expertise-based counsel is now more important than ever. In the Philadelphia region, that place is Liberty Bell. With decades of experience, thousands of successful cases behind us, and more than $1 billion in benefits recovered for our clients, our attorneys are by and wide some of the most proficient in their field. Reach out to us today or visit our offices near The Franklin Institute (by appointment only) for a free consultation!

4 Ugliest Tactics Employers Use To Harass Injured Workers

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What tactics do employers use to make life miserable for injured workers? A man who suffered a severe shoulder injury reminded us of this frequent question. He described what happened when he did not immediately notify his employer of the injury, simply because he thought it would go away.

However, when his pain persisted for 7 days, he realized that something was seriously wrong. He reported the injury to his employer, who promptly fired him, claiming that his failure to report the injury immediately was a “violation of safety rules.”

Their employer’s action was, of course, completely illegal. As every good Philadelphia work injury lawyer will tell you, under Pennsylvania law, you have the right to report a work injury for up to 120 days from the date of injury. Furthermore, you have rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Finally, because employers do not have the right to retaliate against an employee for exercising rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act, such an obnoxious firing would almost certainly give rise to a lawsuit against the employer for discrimination. The problem here, however, is that this isn’t an isolated case of employer harassment.

Taking money from your pocket

Under Pennsylvania Law, an employer is entitled to a credit equal to 50% of any old age benefits against workers’ compensation benefits the employee receives. If the employee was collecting old age benefits before the work injury occurred, the employer is not entitled to a credit. 

Ugliest Tactics Employers Use To Harass Injured Workers

For example, if an employee receives $2,200.00 per month in workers’ compensation benefits and $1,100.00 per month in social security retirement benefits (old age benefits), the insurance company would be obligated to pay only $1,650.00 monthly. ($2,200-$1,100/2=$1,650.00)

In Caputo v. WCAB, an injured worker challenged this position, arguing that it was a violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Court rejected the employee’s challenge, sending a clear message that it’s acceptable for employers to reduce payments of workers’ compensation benefits by 50% of the social security retirement benefits the injured worker receives.

U.S. Supreme Court upholds employers’ use of class action waivers to deny employee remedies for employers’ illegal conduct

In a major blow to the rights of employees under the National Labor Relations Act to join forces in “mutual aid and protection,” the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that employers could bar employees from participating in class actions against employers and force them to arbitrate disputes.  

Class actions, in which groups of similarly aggrieved individuals file suit, are among the only effective ways for employees to obtain redress for grievances against employers who violate minimum wage or overtime pay rights or violate laws against discrimination. 

Employers use arbitration agreements that contain class action waivers to force employees to file for arbitration individually. Frequently the damages recoverable by an employee are insufficient to justify the filing of an individual legal action. Furthermore, where employees are the victims of discrimination, they are often reluctant to take legal action unless they are part of a group for fear of being ostracized by co-employees.  

Among the cases consolidated in the decision is one in which employees for Murphy Oil sued the company for back pay for “off the clock” work. The employees had agreed to arbitrate employment claims individually when they accepted the jobs, but the National Labor Relations Board argued that class action waivers interfered with the right of employees to join to enforce their rights.

Former President Trump took the extremely rare step of reversing the position of a previous administration and filed a new brief in support of the employers and Justice Gorsuch wrote the decision for the majority.

Is the Supreme Court against the working class?

Justice Gorsuch’s widely condemned decision in Epic Systems v. Morris may prove to be the harbinger of a new era in which the United States Supreme Court takes an extreme anti-labor stance.

As noted in a previous section, in the 5-4 decision, Justice Gorsuch ruled that an employer may prohibit employees from joining together in class actions against the employer. The decision also held that employers may require employees to take any dispute to arbitration in which “neutral” arbitrators will rule on the merits of an employee’s claim. 

Employers who force employees to accept these conditions can get away with stealing small amounts of wages from all their employees because no individual employee would be willing to pay attorney’s fees and costs that exceed their recovery. In her dissent, Justice Ginsberg noted that employees at one of the companies would likely have to spend $200,000.00 to recover only $1,867.02 in overtime pay and an equivalent amount in liquidated damages.

Justice Gorsuch’s decision is predicated upon the absurd notion that there is equal bargaining power between employers and employees. The reality is quite different. In the case of Epic Systems, employees were told via e-mail that they had to agree to arbitrate any disputes with the employer and give up the right to pursue class actions.  Anyone who continued to work at the company after receiving the e-mail was deemed to have accepted the agreement.

Approximately 23 percent of all non-unionized employees are subject to class action waivers and mandatory arbitration agreements.  That is likely to change, and not for the better.  President Trump’s most ardent supporters will suffer because of this ruling.

Has your employer terminated your employment because you filed a workers’ compensation claim?

employer terminated your employment because you filed a workers' compensation claim

Under Pennsylvania law, injured workers whose employment has been terminated for filing a workers’ compensation claim, may pursue a wrongful discharge suit against their employers.  [Shick v. Shirey, 552 Pa. 590, 716 A.2d 1231 (Pa. 1998)]

Union-represented employees, however, cannot pursue a wrongful discharge lawsuit if the collective bargaining agreement protects the employee from discharge without proper cause.  [Phillips v. Babcock and Wilcox, 349 Pa. Super 351, 503 A.2d 36 (1986), appeal denied, 514 Pa. 618, 521 A.2d 933 (1987); Harper v. American Red Cross Blood Services, 153 F.Supp.2d 719 (E.D. Pa. 2001)]

The commonwealth or its political subdivisions are not subject to such a wrongful discharge claim because it does not fall within the exceptions to sovereign immunity outlined in 42 Pa. C. S. § 8522 (b).  Similarly, local agencies are immune from such lawsuits under the Pennsylvania Political Sub-Division Tort Claims Act, which does not recognize a wrongful discharge lawsuit.  [42 Pa. C.S.A. § 8542.  Kuzel v. Krause, 658 A.2d 856 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995); Haiden v. Greene County Career and Technology Center, 2009 Westlaw 2341922 (W.D. Pa. 2009)]

Which Philadelphia work injury lawyer near me is the most reliable?

If you have been wrongly discharged in the aftermath of a workplace injury and considering actions against employers that are legally available to you, turn to The Liberty Bell Workers’ Compensation for aid.

We’ve been advocating for the rights of injured workers for well over two decades, securing more than $1 billion in benefits and winning the reputation of integrity and honesty among peers and clients alike. Don’t be tempted to hire cheap legal mill lawyers who barely know where the workers’ comp system comes from. Give us a call today or visit our offices at Temple University Center City Campus, and see for yourself the difference a highly professional team can make!

Work Comp Mills & Why Should You Be Weary of Them

work injury attorney Philadelphia

Cases dismissed for lack of prosecution. Showing up for court harried, overworked, and unprepared. Redying witnesses moments before the hearing. Withdrawing cases in an effort to judge shop. Conducting medical depositions without having reviewed the file. Performing inept cross-examinations that were not prepared in advance. Writing hurried briefs that do not accurately or cogently summarize the evidence. Selling out clients.

These are among the most common complaints about workers’ compensation mills, where lawyers are more interested in generating fees than representing their clients.

A reputable work injury attorney from Philadelphia should avoid presenting testimony from any witness who has not been prepared at least one day in advance and should have all questions ready in advance, including cross-examination. Medical testimony is most effective when the lawyer arranges all records in chronological order and forwards them to the physician well in advance of the deposition. Lawyers should prepare talking points for the preparation of the doctor and discuss anticipated cross-examination.

Unfortunately, lawyers at the legal mills care about one thing only and too often “wing it”, rather than taking these basic steps necessary to ensure their clients’ well-being.

Lazy Lawyers Phoning It In

Lazy Lawyers Phoning It In

Medical evidence in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases usually must be done in a formal deposition at the doctor’s office with opposing lawyers and a court reporter. At a deposition, one lawyer presents the testimony of the witness and the other cross-examines. Anyone with a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim (or personal injury case) has the right to expect that his or her lawyer will be well-prepared when presenting testimony from expert witnesses or cross-examining experts hired by the insurance company.

The inexperienced and rushed attorneys at many of these firms “wing it” when presenting testimony from their clients’ physicians, doing little more than having the doctor repeat comments made in medical reports. Cross-examination of insurance company doctors is even worse. Lawyers in these mega-firms do not leave their desks, cross-examining doctors by phone while the lawyer representing the insurance company is physically at the deposition. 

The lawyer has no way of knowing whether the defense attorney is providing signals to the doctor.  If he wished to do so during a telephone deposition, the defense attorney could press the “mute” button while the doctor looks through medical records, coaching the doctor with advice on how to answer questions.

Another common issue with legal mill lawyers is that they do a lousy job cross-examining these doctors. Many insurance company doctors have terrible reputations. The judge, however, has to base his or her decision on the facts of the case. If the attorney does not ask the insurance company doctor about the hundreds of thousands of dollars he earns every year working for insurance companies, the judge will not have that evidence available to explain why he or she found the insurance company physician to be not credible.

In other words, you can hire a lawyer who takes your case seriously or you can hire one who literally “phones it in.”  

Rich Law Firm, Poor Representation

Another one in a long line of complaints about Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation legal mills is that lawyers handle your case like a product on an assembly line. There have been instances when people hire one attorney, only to be handed off to someone who is young, overworked, and inexperienced. 

Too often, legal mill staff members would instruct claimants to testify at a hearing, with no explanation about what they will be testifying about or even what to expect. After a sleepless night, the nervous witness meets their lawyer for the first time.

Similarly, there’s an instance where a claimant met the attorney who was handling his case for the first time – on the morning of the hearing. Although she appeared to be smart, it quickly became apparent that she had not read the file.

There Is No Substitute For Experience

While speaking with a severely disabled client recently, we realized, once again, just how important experience is. We had asked her a few days earlier to think about the ways her disability affected her. She spent a few days thinking about it and then we interviewed her.

Work Comp Mills & Why Should You Be Weary

She had extreme difficulty explaining the ways her condition and multiple surgeries interfered with her normal activities of daily living. The “new normal” prevented her from explaining how her plight had disrupted the lives of her and her family. We knew right away the questions that needed to be asked, and in half an hour we had a concise, if harrowing, description of the way her life had changed.

Twenty-five years ago, it would have taken me days to put this together because we simply would not have known the questions to ask. After years of talking to people and finding out the ways that their lives have been affected by misfortune, we know what they’re going through.

This kind of experience can’t be taught to a young lawyer, no matter how hard you try.

Where can I find an experienced work injury attorney near me in Philadelphia?

Beware of any firm that claims to be “the best law firm in America.” If you need to put food on your family’s table, you need to hire a lawyer who will provide you with solid, continuous representation throughout your case. 

In Philadelphia, you can find that kind of lawyer at Liberty Bell. Our team comprises honest, hard-working, and experienced attorneys, with a well-developed reputation for integrity with judges and extensive knowledge of the work comp system in Pennsylvania.

Representation by our lawyers can mean all the difference for your case, giving you the best chance of securing a favorable outcome and the maximum premiums that you deserve. Reach out to us today via phone or chat platforms, or schedule an appointment at our offices near JFK Plaza for a free consultation.

The Aftermath of a Workplace Injury: Should You Trust a Company Doctor or Not?

Philadelphia work injury attorney

It is a prevalent misconception that most employees have an obligation to be treated exclusively by a company doctor after suffering a work injury. Despite employers asserting the necessity of adhering to a “panel provider” during the critical 90-day period post-injury, the reality is that many workers encounter significant hurdles in securing medical practitioners willing to treat them within these confines.

This raises a crucial question: should employees unquestioningly trust a company doctor, or is there a need to critically evaluate the implications of such mandated medical care? Delving into this dilemma will require the help of a proficient Philadelphia work injury attorney,  but it will go a long way toward ensuring you make informed decisions that will expedite your recovery.

Why should you have to wonder if your doctor cares about you?

There are many reasons why the trustworthiness of company-endorsed healthcare providers should always prompt a closer examination. Here are several examples that will help you gain some perspective on the matter.

Example 1: Dishonesty in omission

Should You Trust a Company Doctor or Not

A client with post-concussive syndrome recently reminded us of the dramatic way that employer-designated medical providers treat workers’ compensation patients differently from the way private medical providers treat patients. 

At each visit after the first one, the panel neurologist asked her to tell him what areas had improved, which he duly noted in his records. However, he didn’t ask her any other questions pertaining to her symptoms.

For example, she still had photophobia but her headaches were somewhat better. However, all the office note said is that her headaches were better. As a result of his omission, you would think that the other symptoms didn’t exist. While the office note was accurate, it was dishonest because it was incomplete.

Example 2: The 180° turn

Similarly, in employer-designated physical therapy centers, physical therapists push patients to report improvement even when they are not getting significantly better. “Come on, you must be feeling a little bit better,” is a typical declaration injured workers get at physical therapy centers they have been referred to by company doctors.

If their backs are in spasm, which is a serious sign of injury, these facilities often report “tightness” or “tenderness to palpation.” Company doctors know that injured workers only have an obligation to treat with them for 90 days and often report significant improvement during that time, even when there has been little or none. 

Furthermore, when patient treatment reaches about the 70th day, many company doctors suddenly begin to describe “pre-existing conditions” as the cause of the patient’s symptoms, knowing that the patient will not be treated by them for longer than 90 days.

Example 3: Blind coverage denial

Why should you have to wonder if your doctor cares about you

A former medical director for Aetna Insurance Company admitted under oath that “he never looked at patients’ records when deciding whether to approve or deny care.”  The stunning admission came amidst a deposition taken in a lawsuit filed by a college student who suffers from a rare immune disorder and needed Aetna to pre-authorize an expensive infusion.

The medical director, who signed the pre-authorization denial, admitted that he knew next to nothing about the disorder and testified that he never looked at any medical records in his entire career in connection with any review of medical treatment made by Aetna. 

The silver lining

There are some very fine medical providers who treat patients at the request of insurance companies or employers. There is no reason, however, why patients should wonder whether the provider’s loyalties are to the insurance company or them.

For this reason, those who have suffered serious work injuries should almost always try to get documentation of their symptoms from a primary care physician – even during the 90-day period during which they are supposed to be treated by the company doctor.  Furthermore, when the company’s 90-day treatment period expires, it’s time to get treated by someone you are sure is honest.

Where in Philadelphia can I find an experienced work injury attorney near me?

At Liberty Bell, you can find the finest lineup of workers’ compensation attorneys on either side of Schuylkill River. Our seasoned legal team adopts a client-centric approach, tailoring our strategies to reflect the unique circumstances of your case. We possess a profound understanding of the work comp system and we’re widely recognized in Philadelphia for our integrity and commitment to justice.

Don’t fall into the trap of legal mills whose only goal is to enhance their bottom line. Contact us today and ensure you have a partner who’s willing to fight tooth and nail to ensure the best outcome for your case!