Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation: History and Process

In 2019, 172,000 plus workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in Pennsylvania alone. Workplace injuries can have many costly repercussions, including medical costs and time lost from work. That is why Pennsylvania workers’ compensation coverage is crucial and mandatory for almost all Pennsylvania employers.

Pennsylvania workers’ compensation history dates back to 1915 when the Pennsylvania Workmen’s Compensation Act was formed. The workers’ compensation process ensures that employees are compensated for lost wages, medical expenses, and where applicable, specific loss benefits. Examples of loss benefits include amputations, loss of use for all practical intents and purposes, head, face, and neck disfigurement, loss of hearing, vision, or paralysis. If work-related events result in an employee’s death, their dependents may claim benefits and coverage of burial expenses. Workers’ compensation coverage begins on your first day of work and lasts for your entire employment with the company.

It is important to understand the process of filing a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim, from when you notice your injury through to settlement.


It is important to report any work-related injuries to your employer within 21 days of its occurrence but no later than 120 days. If no notice is had or given to one’s supervisor within 120 days after the injury, no compensation on behalf of your employer is required. The exception to this is in cases of progressive diseases or injuries, which take place over a period of time. The time limit may be extended to when you knew or should have known of its relationship to work. Make sure to record important details around the site or events of the accident, such as loose cables or obstacles on the ground, uneven terrain, and weather conditions. Take photos and record evidence where possible. This will be important if you have to support your claim. If the company accepts liability for your injury or illness, they will file for workers’ compensation so you may receive your benefits. 

Filing a Claim Petition

If your employer denies you workers’ compensation, you generally have up to three years from when you were injured to file a petition for benefits. Your claim petition will be assigned to a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Judge in your county, and you will be notified of the day, time, and place for the hearing. The judge will hear your case, which will most likely occur over several hearings. These hearings allow both you and your employer to present evidence, including necessary medical evidence, photos, and witnesses. These hearings involve technical applications of the workers’ compensation laws, rules of court, and rules of evidence. It is highly recommended one has legal representation. A case may settle during the litigation process. A final written decision regarding your claim or settlement will be distributed to all parties through the post.

Filing an Appeal

After your claim is determined by a Workers’ Compensation Judge, both you and your employer have 20 days to file an appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. You then have 30 days to appeal that decision to the Commonwealth Court. A further/final appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court may be attempted (the PA Supreme Court doesn’t accept all appeals) within 30 days of the Commonwealth Court’s decision.

Work-related injuries and illnesses can be life-changing, and the workers’ compensation process can be complicated. If you or a loved one has sustained a work-related injury, Dugan & Associates will work to pursue fair and just compensation for loss of earnings, damages, and medical expenses. Contact us today online or by telephone at 412-353-3572 to speak with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania worker’s compensation lawyer and get the treatment and compensation you deserve.

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