Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is workers' compensation?

Workers' compensation is a system set up to provide medical treatment, lost wages, and permanent disability (if any) to workers who are injured on the job. In workers' compensation, it doesn't matter whose "fault" the injury was, whether it is the employer's, a co-worker, the injured party's fault, or no one's fault.

  1. What kind of matters are workers' compensation?

There are two basic types of workers' compensation claims. The first is called an accidental injury – that occurs when you are at work and something unusual or different happens causing you to suffer an injury. It doesn't have to be the traditional meaning of an "accident." It could be simply bending down to pick up a box and you injure your back, or, it can be an intentional act, such as a robbery, which is certainly not a traditional accident.

The second type of claim is called an occupational disease. These are problems that are known to develop in certain occupations. The most common ones that we deal with are carpal tunnel syndrome (a wrist condition), tendonitis in the elbow (also known as "tennis elbow"), and exposure to various chemicals and irritants.

  1. What am I entitled to under workers' compensation?

You are entitled to get paid lost wages at two-thirds of your average weekly wage (this payment is tax free) while you are medically unable to work. You are entitled to have all your medical bills paid by the workers' compensation insurance company (or self-insurer) under a Fee Guide. You are not personally responsible for any bills that exceed the Fee Guide.

If you are unable to return to your previous employment, you are entitled to vocational assistance to help you find new employment.

Finally, if you have a permanent condition, you are entitled to get paid what is called permanent partial or permanent total disability based on your medical condition. For permanent disability, you are evaluated by a physician selected by your attorney and one selected by the insurance company.

  1. Why do I need an attorney in a workers' compensation claim?

There are many Rules and Regulations which apply determining how you get paid, what you get paid, and when you get paid. There are also issues dealing with medical treatment as to what you are entitled to. The insurance companies are required to have lawyers representing them when there is a dispute and there is going to be an issue heard. Because of the technicalities in workers' compensation law, you should certainly have an attorney represent you.

  1. How much does an attorney charge?

All attorneys charge the same in workers' compensation as fees are set by the Workers' Compensation Commission. There is no attorney's fee unless the attorney is successful in getting you paid lost wages that the Employer and/or Insurer will not pay voluntarily and if you have a permanent disability. There is no charge for filling out forms or meeting with clients.

For more information, call Jack J. Schmerling, Esquire, at 410-787-0022.

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