Today we will be talking about workers’ compensation law. Workers’ compensation is a concept that dates back to the days Hammurabi’s code in 1750 BC. Today every state in the U.S. has workers’ compensation laws to protect employees and employers, as well as their families. My guest is workers’ compensation attorney Debra Matherne and she is going to talk with us about this topic and some of the most common questions she gets from her clients. So Deb thanks for being here today.
Debra Matherne: Thank you for having me.
Dei Lynam: Deb, what is workers’ compensation?
Debra Matherne: Workers’ compensation is a benefits program under Pennsylvania state law under which an employee who is injured can receive medical or wage loss benefits. To receive benefits they have to be injured in the course and scope of their employment with that attorney and then have some type of disability.
Dei Lynam: And if someone is injured at work what are the first steps that you recommend they take.
Debra Matherne : Absolutely the first thing they should do is report that injury to their employer. They have up to 120 days under Pennsylvania law to report the injury and then they would have 3 years after that to file a claim petition for an injury. But if it is not reported within that 120 days they can never have a claim for workers’ compensation. So as soon as possible, but certainly within 120 days.
Dei Lynam: And what types of benefits are available to injured workers?
Debra Matherne: There are several different types of benefits if you qualify. First there are medical benefits to pay for your medical bills related to that work related injury and there are wage loss benefits. Workers’ compensation pays a percentage of your wages but there are no taxes on those benefits generally, so they will receive both medical and wage loss benefits.
There are also additional benefits such as death benefits, if you were deceased, that could be for your spouse or your children. In addition if you have a specific loss which is actually under the workers’ compensation act, for instance if you lose a finger, lose an arm , or lose a specific body part, there are certain body parts for which you can receive a certain number of weeks of your wages as an amount.
Dei Lynam: How can a lawyer help in one of these claims?
Debra Matherne : First of all if a claim is denied or if there is not anything that they are doing to accept your case quickly enough at the beginning of the case we can always help by filing a claim petition helping the person contact the claims adjuster, and making sure all the necessary information is conveyed to the insurance company at the beginning of the case. In addition we also offer advice on cases so it’s often easier to have a lawyer before you need to or have to go to court to give you advice for the proper steps to take.