(Transcript) Today we will be talking about workers’ compensation law and what injured workers should know about their legal rights and remedies under the law. My guest is workers compensation attorney Bill Kovalcik and he is going to talk with us about this topic. So Bill thanks for being here today.
Bill: It’s my pleasure to be here.
Interviewer: How soon after an injury do I need to report it to my employer?
Bill: Whenever a person is injured at work they should report it immediately for two reasons. One of which is there are time limits. If you don’t report it for 120 days you are out of court completely; you can never bring a claim. So certainly don’t keep it to yourself. The other thing we find is this, people who don’t report their injuries right away are often viewed as not credible. The claim sometimes then becomes denied. And that’s a problem. So the lesson is, as soon as you get hurt, immediately go to your supervisor.
Interviewer: And how will I know if my claim is accepted or denied?
Bill: The insurance company that insures your particular employer is obligated by Pennsylvania state law to either accept that claim or deny that claim within 21 days. You should be in receipt of one of two or three different documents that they are obligated to file in Harrisburg and send to you. They could send you a notice of denial. They could send you what is called a notice of compensation payable, where they’re actually accepting your claim or the third document would be a notice of temporary compensation payable, which accepts the claim for a maximum of 90 days. Very important to know which document you get; it changes the case.
Interviewer: Ok. And what if my employer suggests I go out on short term disability instead of workers’ compensation?
Bill: We find this to be a problem often and here’s why. A lot of employers don’t want to pay workers’ comp benefits. It makes the premiums go up. It’s very expensive for the business. However, if they can push it off into short term disability, that benefits them financially. But it doesn’t benefit you. Short term disability is generally for people who have non-work related disabilities. The benefits aren’t as good as workers’ comp. There’s no medical benefit part of it, you don’t get medical bills paid, you should never file for short term disability if you were injured at work.
Interviewer: And can I collect workers’ compensation and unemployment or workers’ compensation and social security disability.
Bill: The answer is yes and no and the reason is if you are on workers’ comp benefits and you choose to file for unemployment, which as your attorney I would never advise you to do, and here’s why, you can’t really get both of the benefits. As soon as you start getting unemployment your workers’ comp goes down because that insurance carrier has the right to take a credit for all the unemployment you’re getting. Now, when it comes to social security disability we usually advise our clients not to apply until they have settled their workers’ comp case because again there’s an offset, the federal government gets to reduce, sometimes to zero, your social security disability benefit based on your receipt of workers’ comp benefits.