Butler County Workers’ Compensation Attorney
A Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Butler County
While no one likes to dwell on such thoughts, workplace injuries occur with unfortunate frequency. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 2.9 million workplace injuries in 2016, a number that is likely to remain about the same in 2017 and 2018. Injuries in the workplace may take place for any number of reasons, but negligence in the workplace is responsible for many of them, especially the most debilitating and life-changing injuries. Butler County is no exception to the risk for injury on the job and this guide will help you understand what workers’ compensation is, the statistics and industries in Butler County, and why you may need an attorney after an injury at work. Learning what to expect from a workers’ comp attorney can help you make an informed decision going forward in your case.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
In response to the alarming number of injured workers who relied on charity to pay for expenses after debilitating accidents, in 1915 the Pennsylvania legislature passed the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. Administered by the Department of Labor and Industry and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, this act provides compensation for employees who suffer an injury during their work, regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
Most states require employers to provide insurance coverage for their employees. After an injury at work, the insurance coverage pays for victims’ medical bills and pays a portion of their lost wages stemming from time missed due to their injury. This insurance covers an employee from their first day of work, and cannot have coverage terminated for any reason while they are at work.
Workers’ comp should cover any injury at work, even if the employee does not miss any time from work due to the injury; this is true regardless of who is at fault for the injury. Even if the injury was a reaggravation of an old injury, workers’ comp will cover medical expenses for the work-related injuries. However, there are usually exceptions for employees injured while under the influence of illegal drug.
In addition to medical expenses, employees may receive replacement of lost wages. If the disability lasts more than seven days, insurance will pay up to two-thirds of the lost wages. The maximum amount that each weekly benefit can add up to was $951 for 2015, and these benefits can extend for up to 500 weeks. Certain circumstances may cause a reduction in the amount paid to the worker.
What Are the Largest Industries in Butler County?
The single largest employer in Butler County is the federal government. This includes an office of the U.S. Social Security Administration as well as the U.S Consolidated Farm Services Agency. Though a separate system from state workers’ compensation laws covers federal employees, their injuries are still subject to compensation.
The largest private employer in Butler County is Westinghouse Electric Company, LLC. Among other products Westinghouse manufactures nuclear energy production facilities and parts for those facilities.
Butler Healthcare Providers is the next largest private employer in Butler county, with healthcare providers scattered throughout the county. Butler has 120 offices in the area with hundreds of employees.
The largest employer is the restaurant and fast food industry, with well over 7,000 businesses classified as providing food service. While not the most dangerous occupation to have, thousands of people around the country suffer injury each year while working to provide food services.
The next largest type of employer in Butler County is elementary and secondary education providers. There are over 6,000 locations in Butler county with hundreds of employees working as teachers, school administrators, maintenance personnel, and many other necessary occupations.
Butler County Workers’ Comp Statistics
There were 426 petitions for workers’ compensation claims in 2015, the most recent year for which information is available for Butler county. This is an increase of 68 over the previous year. Butler county saw a total of 1,718 worker related injuries over the course of the entire year. The state as a whole had just over 166,000 work injuries and illnesses.
The most common industries to have work injuries were the trade, transportation and public utilities area with 618 injuries for the county. Education and health related services came in 2nd with 338 injuries for what is the most common source of injuries for the state of Pennsylvania. Nationwide, construction is one of the most dangerous industries, but accounted for only 134 injuries in Butler County.
Researchers break down total compensation by state rather than county. Injury victims received almost $3 billion in 2014 in the state, the latest year with finalized numbers. According to these statistics, the most common age of those injured at work were those 25-29 years of age.
Strains or sprains were by far the most common type of injury suffered at work, with over 63,000 injuries suffered statewide. This corresponds to the most common cause of injury listed as overexertion, with over 43,000 cases accounting for over 25% of all injuries suffered in Pennsylvania.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Workers’ Comp Case?
If you have suffered any injury at work, you may be concerned about receiving fair compensation medical bills and time missed from work. Unfortunately, in many cases the only way to get a fair settlement from workers’ comp insurance is to hire an attorney to represent your interests. However, here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to hire a lawyer.
If the injury you suffered was minor, such as a sprained ankle or an injury requiring a few stitches, most insurance companies will cover the small medical costs involved in the injury.
If your employer does not contest that the injury occurred at work, and you missed little or no time from work due to the injury, it is likely that the insurance company will merely pay the medical bills and you will not experience any difficulties with your claim.
Nevertheless, even in situations such as those outlined above, it may be well worth your while to contact a good workers’ comp attorney for a free consultation. The attorney will advise you whether you should be able to handle this case on your own.
If your situation is more complex, consulting an attorney is usually a good idea. If you fail to receive benefits promptly, it is a good idea to contact an attorney to get advice on how to proceed. If an insurance company offers you a settlement, especially if you have any reason to believe that it may not be enough to cover your future medical bills or lost wages, consulting an attorney is a good idea to determine if the settlement is sufficient. Additionally, if your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you will likely need the services of an attorney to correct the discrimination.
What Can a Workers’ Comp Attorney Do for Me?
Lack of sufficient medical evidence to support your workers’ comp claim is the most common reason an insurer will reject a claim. A good workers’ comp attorney has the experience to gather the appropriate medical records, arrange treatment from physicians, obtain medical opinions and schedule depositions from expert medical witnesses. An experienced attorney will understand the strengths of your case and know what is necessary to present the strongest possible case.
Because workers’ comp attorneys have seen many claims and injuries before, they have a good understanding of how much you will need in a settlement to ensure you have enough of a reward to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Workers experiencing such an injury generally cannot approximate what costs they may be facing going forward. This information is key when attempting to negotiate a settlement that adequately compensates you for your injuries with the insurance company. A good attorney will put together a reasonable estimate of your future expenses, and knows how much the insurance company is likely to offer in such a case. Having an attorney negotiate the settlement puts the worker in a much stronger position for getting a fair settlement that will cover expenses now and in the future.
If the insurance company doesn’t settle your case, there will be an administrative hearing or trial that takes place, which a workers’ comp judge will oversee. It is vital that your case is properly prepared, should a case go to trial. A good workers’ comp attorney will have the medical evidence prepared and submitted, will have expert witnesses and testimony, and will know how to structure your case to present the merits of your claim in a way that highlights why you should receive the compensation requested in the case. If your case comes to trial, an experienced attorney will benefit you tremendously. Many individuals do represent themselves but your best chance for securing the best possible outcome for your case lies with securing legal representation.
Understanding Workers’ Comp
The workers’ comp process can be a difficult and confusing journey. Fortunately. most workers will never suffer a seriously debilitating injury at work. However, even seemingly minor injuries can become serious over time if the proper treatment a victim doesn’t receive medical care in a timely manner. If you’re hurt at work in Butler County, it may well be in your best interest to contact an attorney for a free consultation to get help understanding your options and the best next steps for you to take.