The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act was created in 1915. With numerous changes over the 100 years since enacted, and thousands of court decisions interpreting the terms of the law, it is not possible to describe every rule and exception, or identify the unique circumstances present in every case. This outline simply describes the “highlights” to provide a general understanding of the law.
Purpose Of Law
Before workers’ compensation laws existed, an injured worker had no right to any benefits, unless they were able to prove the employer’s “negligence” caused the injury. Considering the nature of work typically available in 1915 (factories, construction, coal mining) and the level of technology and safety then existing, many workers were injured or killed simply due to the dangers of the job, with no negligence or wrongdoing by the employer. As a result, many workers had no source of benefits or income due to their injury.
Each state created their own system of benefits and procedures around this same time period. Pennsylvania’s laws are considered a “wage loss” system, designed to “make injured workers whole”, as if no injury ever occurred. It is not intended to allow an injured worker to “profit” from being injured, but simply to replace the wages they can not earn due to their injury. It was an effort to compromise the rights and interests of the employee, with the rights and interests of their employers – with the balance favoring the injured worker.
“The Grand Bargain of 1915″ eliminated the employee’s obligation to prove negligence, but in exchange, the law limited the benefits available for a work-related injury to wage loss benefits and payment of medical bills for treatment that is reasonable, necessary and related to the work injury. There is no pain and suffering available in workers’ compensation claims – even if the employer was negligent. The injured worker may not “choose” to pursue a separate (or alternative) negligence lawsuit – but is exclusively limited to the benefits available under the Workers’ Compensation Act. As with most general rules, there are limited exceptions; such as when an employer illegally fails to carry workers’ compensation insurance; or where the employer acts in a “dual capacity”.]
There are also unique circumstances where other benefits may be available – such as a disfigurement (above the collar bone); fatal claim benefits for dependents of a worker killed due to a work-related incident; and “additional compensation” for illegally employed minors.
As an employee, you have certain rights and at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias, we do everything in our power to protect those rights. Call 610-601-5399 today or send us a message online to learn more about our firm and how we can help you.