Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued fines against a Houston-based oil and gas company over an explosion that occurred at a drilling site in Susquehanna County back in January. The explosion, according to investigators, was caused by vapors which ignited and broke a tank open.
What apparently occasioned the explosion in this case was a worker’s use of a cellphone flashlight. That worker was injured, though sources didn’t indicate the extent and severity of the injuries, nor whether he became unable to work. Explosions and other serious workplace incidents can, of course, result in significant injuries to workers which can leave them unable to work. The question for many injured workers becomes: when can I begin receiving workers’ compensation payments for my lost wages?
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, an employee must be disabled for over seven calendar days before workers’ compensation disability payments are available. After 14 days of absence from work, an injured worker is able to seek payments for lost wages back to the eighth day after injury. Compensation checks are ordinarily received within 21 days of absence from work, provided the injury was reported in a timely fashion, the worker actually missed more than seven days of work, and the claim is approved by insurance.
Another facet of state law is that temporary compensation payments may be made for up to 90 days even if the claim is not accepted by a worker’s employer or the employer’s insurance company, after which point the worker is able to file a claim with the state to pursue entitlement to benefits.
In light of this, it is important for injured workers not only to immediately report injuries on the job, but also to be aware that they have the option to challenge the decision of an employer or its insurance company regarding continuation of benefits. Doing so is often easier with the help of an experienced attorney.
In a future post, we’ll look at when wage-loss payments stop and the reasons they can be stopped.
Source: The Washington Times, “Pennsylvania fines gas driller in explosion, spill,” Dec. 2, 2014.