Pennsylvania's system of worker's compensation (workman's comp) is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide worker's compensation insurance for their employees. Worker's compensation insurance may be provided through a competitive state fund, (Thomason 387-405) a private insurance carrier, or employers may self-insure. Waivers are not permitted.
Special Employment Situations
With narrow exceptions, agricultural employers must provide worker's compensation coverage. Employers may provide voluntary worker's compensation coverage for domestic servants. (Burton 29-35)
Medical Benefits & Choice of Physician
Full medical benefits are provided to employees entitled to worker's compensation benefits, with no time or monetary limits. The employer selects the initial physician who will provide care, with the employee obtaining free choice of provider after a period defined by law. (Burton 69-116)
Disability Benefits Provided
Payments are made for temporary total disability (TTD) in an amount determined by a percentage of the worker's wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. Payments continue for the duration of the disability. Benefits are subject to Social Security benefit offsets, (Burton 172-219) as well as offsets for benefits received under an employer-funded pension plan and for severance pay.
Payments are made for permanent total disability (PTD) based upon a percentage of the worker's wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. Payments for PTD continue for the duration of the disability. Benefits are subject to offsets for Social Security benefits, benefits received through employer-funded pensions, and for severance pay.
Payments for permanent partial disability (PPD) are made based upon a percentage of the worker's wage, subject to a weekly maximum payment amount. Payments for PPD may continue for up to 500 weeks. (Boden 37-68)
Scheduled awards are paid in addition to total temporary disability benefits starting upon termination of the termination of the TTD benefits. Scheduled awards are not reduced because of receipt of TTD benefits. (Thomason 387-405)
Benefits may be available for serious and permanent disfigurement of the head, face, or neck. (Burton 29-35)
Physical rehabilitation benefits are covered under medical services. There is no provision for vocational rehabilitation in the worker's compensation law.
With certain constraints and filing deadlines, occupational hearing losses may be compensable. (Burton 69-116)
Death Benefits Provided
Death benefits are payable to an employee's surviving spouse, or spouse and children, based upon a percentage of the employee's wages, subject to a cap. A burial allowance is available. (Burton 172-219)
Limits on Attorney Fees
Attorney fees for claimants are limited to 20% by statute. In certain cases, the attorney fee may be added to the award.
Workers' compensation emerged in the United States during the Progressive Era (1900-1920).1 Before then, the only remedy for an employee injured at work was a negligence suit against the employer. If the employee won the suit, the recovery could be substantial, including damages for pain and suffering. (Boden 37-68)However, many workers were unsuccessful in these suits: not only did the employee have to prove employer negligence, but the employer also had several additional defenses, such as the fellow servant rule, which absolved the employer from any liability if the worker was injured through ...