Pennsylvania workers' compensation laws may need revisiting

Residents of Dauphin, Pennsylvania, may have read the news reports about the investigation into the workers' compensation systems across the United States. The reports stated findings that may not please the workers who suffer on-the-job injuries. The investigation exposed loopholes in the workers' compensation system in the United States.

The investigation, however, had some good news for Pennsylvania workers, because the state was rated pretty highly in certain aspects of workers' compensation provisions compared with other states. Among all of the states, Pennsylvania has set some of the highest compensation limits for lost arms and legs for the benefit of workers who get hurt on the job. For people who are dealing with workers' compensation cases, however, the findings may not be sufficient. According to the reports, there is a need for some major changes in the provisions of workers' compensation so that injured workers will be able to obtain the benefits that they deserve.

According to a 1993 Pennsylvania provision, an injured worker will get the lower of two numbers-either a percentage of the worker's average weekly salary at the time of the injury or half of the average weekly wage that is currently in effect across the state. According to one workers' compensation lawyer, another area of concern is that Pennsylvania law does not allow for cost of living adjustments. The lawyer stated that due to this, a worker who was seriously injured decades ago may not be getting enough money now.

According to the lawyer, another big concern is the provision of workers' compensation law that bars workers from choosing their own preferred doctors for the first 90 days after the injury. According to the current provisions, a worker will need to be treated by a doctor chosen by the employer for the first 90 days after the injury. The lawyer stated that a doctor chosen by the employer may favor lower-cost treatment and the worker has no option but to wait 90 days. By then, the damage is already done, in many cases.

Source: WITF.org, "Where are the problems with Pa.'s worker's compensation system?" Ben Allen, March 17, 2015

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