Workers' Compensation Act Overview

Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Benefits

In Pennsylvania, workers who suffer injuries on the job are entitled to benefits under the workers' compensation law. The workers' compensation law covers all employees in Pennsylvania (with very minor exceptions for the self-employed) and covers all injuries that occur within Pennsylvania and even some that occur to Pennsylvania employees who are actually injured while working outside of Pennsylvania.

What Does Workers' Compensation Provide?

The workers' compensation law provides a wage loss benefit to compensate an injured worker for lost wages while injured and medical benefits needed to cover the costs associated with the medical treatment for a work injury.

In addition to wage loss and medical benefits, the Workers' Compensation Act also provides certain other specific types of benefits; for example, partial disability benefits (for periods where an injured worker has lost some wages but is still able to work at a lighter duty or lesser paying position), specific loss/loss of use benefits (where injury has caused the loss of function of a specific body party), a disfigurement benefit (for scars on the head or neck), and death benefits (payable to a surviving spouse or dependent child). In addition to benefits for workplace injuries, the law also provides compensation for illnesses or occupational diseases suffered as a result of exposure to toxic or hazardous substances on the job (such as asbestos, silica or lead poisoning) or illnesses that are from chronic overuse occurring on the job (such as tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome). The Act also provides coverage for injuries arising out of workplace stress or overexertion (such as a heart attack or a mental breakdown, although these are very difficult claims to prove).

The wage loss benefits (also called disability benefits) and medical coverage provided by the workers' compensation law are an exclusive benefit. That means that there are no other types of recoveries or damages that can be paid under the workers' compensation law. Consequently, an injured worker is not compensated for inconvenience, pain and suffering or loss of services which are occasioned to the household as a result of a workplace injury. These types of damages are permissible only from the civil courts, and workers' compensation is not a civil court remedy, but is limited to the terms of the Workers' Compensation Act.

How Is Workers Compensation Calculated?

The specific dollar amount of a particular worker's benefit is based on a calculation of a worker's "average weekly wage." The average weekly wage is determined by averaging the total amount of wages earned in the year prior to injury and should approximate what a worker would earn in a typical week of work. The specific formula for calculating the average weekly wage can vary, however, depending upon the length of an individual's employment with the time of injury employer, or the method by which an individual's wages have been set by their employment contract. Once the average weekly wage is determined, the benefit rate received by the worker for each week of wage loss (each week they are disabled from their usual work) is 66-2/3 percent. Obviously, this makes the calculation of the average weekly wage a very important concept because all of the worker's subsequent benefits will be based on 2/3 of that figure. There is no cost of living adjustment or increase available under the workers' compensation law such that a worker who is disabled by an injury in 1998 will continue to receive the same benefit rate, even if the injury causes them to miss time from work again in 2004 or 2008.

Contact Us

Contact the Pittsburgh workers' compensation attorneys at Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., by calling us at 412-567-1232 in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania, or toll free at 866-466-5789. You may also complete our online contact form. Initial consultations are free and confidential.

For your convenience, we are available to come to your home, hospital or union hall to talk with you and your family about your rights under the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation laws.