Many companies in Pennsylvania have been laying off workers as a result of the economic fallout caused by the novel coronavirus crisis (COVID-19). It’s a time of great uncertainty, and workers who had recently returned to their jobs on light duty after a workers’ compensation claim may not know how this affects them.
Can my workers' compensation benefits be reinstated if I was laid off after returning to work?
You had previously been injured in a workplace accident, and after receiving workers’ compensation benefits, had recently returned to your job with restrictions. Then, you received the news from your employer that, due to the economic hit from the crisis, you were being laid off. Now what?
Losing a job during these tough times is difficult for everyone. Economists predict that the number of layoffs and jobless claims across the U.S. will reach 2-3 million in the coming weeks.
The good news is that in your situation, under the law, you are eligible to have your workers’ compensation benefits reinstated. In order to be eligible for benefits, you must:
- Have been laid off involuntary, and not let go or fired for cause
- Fill out a petition to have your benefits reinstated
- File the petition within 500 weeks after your benefits were suspended (in your case, that may be when you returned to work with restrictions)
A workers’ compensation judge will make a ruling on your petition for reinstatement of benefits. Keep in mind that just because you filed a petition doesn’t mean your benefits will automatically be reinstated.
How can an attorney help me through the COVID-19 economic crisis?
Your former employer and its insurer may challenge your petition, arguing that you had completely recovered from your workplace injury and are no longer eligible to receive benefits.
That’s why it’s important to have an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney represent you. An attorney can handle:
- Paperwork. An attorney can help you fill out the petition, ensure that all necessary information is provided and ensure that all filing procedures are followed.
Medical records. An attorney can gather medical records that prove you are still impacted by your workplace injury, and also help you prepare for an independent medical examination, if one is required.
- Negotiations. An attorney can negotiate directly with the employer’s insurance company about getting your benefits reinstated.
- Appeals. An attorney can represent you at all hearings in front of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, and, if necessary, in court.
While you have 500 weeks from the date of the suspension of benefits to take action on your claim, it’s important to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can explain your rights and advise you on how to proceed.
If you lost your job after returning to work with restrictions, the Scranton attorneys at O’Malley Law Offices can help you petition to have your benefits reinstated. We’ve been helping injured workers for more than three decades. Contact us to learn more.