What is Workers’ Compensation?


People ask me all the time what exactly is workers’ compensation.  The subject of workers’ compensation is really quite interesting.  Up until the early 1900’s, the concept did not exist in the United States.  When employees were injured in the course of their employment they sued employers in court.  In Pennsylvania, of course, those law suits would be filed in Common Pleas Court.  The problems with this were that the employees could not afford to be without monies for the time it would take to get their case litigated.  They also did not have the financial wherewithal often to fight their employers for the benefits to which they were entitled.  In any event, during the Teddy Roosevelt administration the first laws were passed regarding a Federal Workers’ Compensation program.  Eventually the law was modified so that each state in the United States has their own separate laws regarding workers’ compensation.  Interestingly, the laws and the attitudes and even the benefits that are available to employees may vary from state to state.


In Pennsylvania an individual who is injured in the course of their employment may be entitled to benefits.  The primary issue is whether that individual is an employee and whether he was injured in the course of his employment.  If an employee is entitled to workers’ compensation, those benefits take two forms:  Indemnity payments which are payments every week which are based on either ninety (90%) percent or two-thirds (2/3’s) of your average weekly wage.  He is also entitled to payment of medical benefits for as long as he is receiving treatment with regard to injury.


People may be entitled to workers’ compensation in situations that they are not even aware.  An individual who works steadily under the table is entitled to file for workers’ compensation.  There is an entity called the Pennsylvania Uninsured Guaranty Fund which provides benefits to people who are full time employed and, of course, seeks sanctions against employers who are violating the law.  Employees may be covered whether they are going to work or from work under certain circumstances.  Whether or not you were injured in the course of your employment and whether you are entitled to such benefits is a matter where you should contact an attorney.


Not every attorney handles workers’ compensation.  If I may share with you a personal story, I was practicing law for three years when a woman came to me with a workers’ compensation claim.  I told her I really did not feel capable of handling the case and I asked her to seek other counsel.  After three weeks she came back to me and told me she could not find anyone who felt they could capably handle the case.  I took her case and, fortunately, I was successful on her behalf.  Since that time, I have dedicated myself over the last forty (40) years to becoming quite proficient in this area.


When someone thinks they have a workers’ compensation claim, they are welcome to make an appointment in my office.  There is no fee for such an appointment.  I am more than happy to sit down and discuss your case with you.  I cannot begin to tell you how many people I have been able to help over the years who did not realize they were entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.


I intend to write an article once a month in the area of Workers’ Compensation.  I will discuss specific issues and specific questions each and every month to inform my readers.  If you are interested in reading these articles, even if you do not have a legal problem, please let me hear from you, as I would like to know that these articles are reaching people and are of benefit.