Thanks to the workers’ compensation scheme, employees can get the help they need as they recover from workplace injuries and illness. What’s more, dependents can also be compensated if an employee dies due to a work-related illness or injury.
If you are a victim of work-related illness or injury in Pennsylvania, it’s important to know how your workers’ comp benefits are calculated. Knowing this information will ensure you get what you deserve. This article addresses some of the questions employees ask after being involved in a work-related injury.
Although it’s important to seek the service of qualified injury lawyers, knowing what to expect will also prepare you for the income you will receive during your recovery journey.
How Do Workers’ Compensation Payments Work in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania state law mandates virtually all employers to have insurance cover for workplace place injury. Meaning, if you are injured, you may be entitled to compensation ranging from free medical cover, to payment of lost wages, and more.
In Pennsylvania, an employee need not prove that they are not at fault or negligent at the time the injury occurred. Meaning, Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation scheme is a no-fault system. So, your employer or its insurance provider cannot reject or deny your claims on the grounds that you were the cause of your injuries.
While the workers’ compensation benefit will allow you to receive weekly payment for the period of your recovery, you also want to know that the compensation does not pay your complete salary. You need to be aware of this fact as this means that you’ll only have access to only a fraction of your usual wages before the injury or illness happens.
How to Calculate Your Workers’ Comp Benefits
Usually, your wages or income over the last one year before the injury is divided into four, i.e., 13 weeks each. If you received any bonuses or compensation, they will be added as long as they are part of your salary. However, any under-the-table payment, tips, and any other untaxed income will not be added to your benefit calculation.
Among the quarters, the one you made the highest income is then divided into three to determine your pre-injury weekly average income. What you will be paid weekly as your workers’ compensation for lost wages will be two-thirds of the total. Note that while the process is relatively straightforward, you should know that there are other factors that may make the calculation slightly different from the above. Let’s look at some of them below.
What If an Employee Did Not Work For a Full Year Before the Injury?
If the hours or weeks you worked before the injury or illness are not up to a year, it means your benefits cannot be calculated by splitting into four different 13 weeks. Instead, your average weekly income is taken to be your average gross income for the last 13 weeks before sustaining your injury.
Again, it is possible you have only worked for a few weeks, i.e., not up to 13 weeks before the injury happened. Your average weekly wage will then be calculated by the number of hours per week you are expected to work multiplied by your agreed hourly wage.
The downside of this calculation is that an employer can easily claim an employee was required to work fewer hours so that they can bring down the workers’ compensation payment.
Yes, it is illegal for employers to misrepresent employees’ wages because they want to reduce the cost of compensation payments. In fact, it may attract a heavy penalty. Still, it’s not uncommon for employers to play foul. This reason and many more is why you should bring experienced Philadelphia injury lawyers into the picture from the start.
The Pennsylvania Maximum Benefit Rule
Based on the amount of money you make in a week, there are chances you will not be paid a workers’ compensation benefit for the full amount of your salary. Why? In a particular year, the department of labor establishes a maximum amount of workers’ compensation payment an employee can receive.
In 2019, the maximum amount was $1049 per week. Meaning, if you earn between $786 and $1574 per week, you will only receive two-thirds of your weekly average. Now, here’s the flip side. If you earn much less per week, say, $583 to $787, your weekly comp payment will be around $524.
What’s more, if you earn $583 or less per week, the maximum benefit rule will allow you to earn as high 90% ($524) of your weekly wages as your workers’ compensation payment.
Let Us Assist You With Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Work-related injuries or illnesses can happen at any time and to anyone. If you or your loved one are in this boat, you need all the help you can get. It’s best to allow experienced Philadelphia injury lawyers to handle your claims. You will not only get personalized service if you need them to come to your home but also the best outcome for your claims.