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    10 Common Misconceptions About Workers’ Compensation

    Workers’ compensation is a highly specialized area of the law, and like most areas that have their own rules and method of compensation, there are a lot of misconceptions about how the workers’ compensation system operates. Following are 10 common misconceptions the average worker has about their benefits. 

    #1 Your Employer Decides If You Have a Valid Claim

    Many workers think that their employer decides whether or not they have a valid claim and are able to seek workers’ compensation benefits. This is simply not true. The employer has 21 days from the time the employee provides them with notification of their injury to either deny the claim or issue a notice of compensation. If the claim is denied, the worker can then look at their options for appealing the decision. 

    #2 You Will Only Receive Benefits If You Were Injured On-Site While Doing Your Job

    This misconception has two parts: that the injury must be received on site and it must be received while actually performing job-related duties. First of all, in Pennsylvania, a worker may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the injury occurred while they were furthering the business or affairs of their employers. In other words, it is not required that the injury occur on-site. However, if the worker was on-site when the injury occurred, they do not have to have been actively engaged in their job when the injury occurred. 

    #3 Filing a Claim May Mean You Lose Your Job

    Unfortunately, many workers are discouraged from making a workers’ compensation claim because they fear their employer will fire them or otherwise retaliate against them for filing the claim for benefits. Under Pennsylvania law, employers are banned from firing or retaliating in any way against a worker that files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If they do, then the employee should seek immediate assistance from an attorney.

    #4 You Will Not Receive Benefits If the Accident Is Your Fault

    A worker in Pennsylvania may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits for an injury that they caused. This is not to be construed to mean that they will recover benefits for injuries that they intentionally caused to themselves. In other words, if the worker accidentally hurt themselves, they may be entitled to compensation. If, however, they purposely hurt themselves, they will not be entitled to workers’ compensation. 

    #5 Filing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits Means You No Longer Have to Work

    Filing a claim for workers’ compensation does not necessarily mean that the worker is able to stop working altogether. It depends on the nature of the injury, the doctor’s orders, and whether or not the employer is able to accommodate the restrictions put in place by the physician. For example, if the doctor says the worker can work as long as they are able to sit rather than stand while working, and the employer is willing to provide a chair and allow the employee to sit for the duration of their shift, then the employee cannot just quit. Doing so can jeopardize the worker’s ability to receive any benefits through workers’ compensation. 

    #6 You Cannot Recover Workers’ Compensation Benefits If You Have a Previous Injury or Underlying Condition

    Some workers believe that if they have a previous injury or underlying condition they cannot recover workers’ compensation benefits for an injury. This is not the case. If a worker sustains a new injury that aggravates a pre-existing injury they should be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. 

    #7 You Are Only Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits If You Are a Full-Time Employee

    Employees in Pennsylvania are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if they are not employed full-time. As a matter of fact, anyone injured while working is eligible, including part-time and seasonal workers. A worker should not refrain from filing for workers’ compensation benefits because they are not considered to be a full-time employee.

    #8 There Is No Workers’ Compensation Coverage For Occupational Diseases

    An occupational disease is a condition or disorder that occurs as a result of a person’s work activities or environment. Workers that develop a disease that is related to their occupation are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. An example would be if a person that works with coal dust is diagnosed with silicosis, a long-term lung disease. This could be considered a work-related occupational disease. Another example is when a person has a job that requires them to consistently be around noise that reaches 85 decibels or higher. This can result in permanent hearing loss for which they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. 

    #9 If Your Claim for Benefits Is Denied, You Cannot Appeal

    Far too many workers mistakenly believe that if their claim for workers’ compensation benefits is denied they have no recourse. There is an appeals process that they are able to go through to have that denial reconsidered. In many cases, claims that should have been approved initially are denied and it is only through the appeals process that the worker is awarded the benefits they are entitled to receive. Workers’ compensation insurance carriers actually count on workers simply accepting the denial and not pursuing an appeal.   

    #10 You Should File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits Without Help From an Attorney

    Having a workers’ compensation attorney helping you with the claims process is greatly beneficial. Your lawyer will know how the workers’ compensation system works in your state and the steps you need to take to obtain the benefits you deserve. They are also able to clear up any misconceptions you have about your benefits, rights, and responsibilities. Finally, a workers’ compensation attorney will alleviate the stress that comes from fighting for your benefits without the assistance of counsel.

    Speak With An Attorney at Vanesse Law, LLC

    An attorney at Valnesse Law, LLC, can help you understand your rights and what you can expect from the worker’s compensation process. Contact our firm today to schedule a no-obligation initial consultation.