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Protecting your rights when you suffer a work injury in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania workers need to be aware of certain basic principles and rules when they suffer a work injury. Failure to follow correct procedure could mean that an injured worker loses their rights. It also can make it harder for the injured worker to win his or her case.
Notice to the Employer
Your first step in ensuring that your rights are protected is to report any injuries to your employer. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (the “Act”) provides at section 311, 77 P.S. section 631 that notice must be given to the employer within 120 days. The time for giving notice of an injury begins from the time the employee knows, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence should know, of the existence of an injury and its relation to work.
As a practical matter, WB&S advises that you report your injury as soon as possible after it occurs. It is better to report an injury before you go home than wait until the next day. Injured workers often have a “wait and see” attitude that can make their case more difficult.
Make sure that you give notice to your supervisor or another manager if your supervisor is not available. Notice to a fellow employee is not good notice under the Act. Keep in mind that you are not eligible to receive benefits for any expenses incurred before the injury is reported.
Initial responsibilities of the employer and insurer
All Pennsylvania employers must be insured or self-insured for workers’ compensation. Once you notify your employer of your injury, your employer must report your injury to their insurance carrier and must give you the name, address and phone number of their insurance company.
Employers are required to report the injury to their insurance company promptly, as well as file a report with the Workers Compensation Bureau in Pennsylvania within forty-eight hours (if the injury resulted in the death of a worker), or within ten days (if any other type of harm occurred). The insurance company has until 21 days after being provided notification to either pay benefits for what happened, or deny the claim. If the claim is denied, you will be issued a pink form called a Notice of Workers Compensation Denial explaining why they are failing to compensate the injury. If the claim is approved, you will be issued a yellow form called a Notice of Compensation Payable.
It is crucial that you review your Notice of Compensation Payable to see whether it lists your injuries accurately and lists them fully. The insurance carrier often tries to understate the nature of your injuries. This can sometimes have later significance in a workers’ compensation proceeding in the future.
If the insurer fails to take appropriate action after being notified of an injury within 21 days of the incident, the employee can file a petition with the Workers Compensation Bureau. Typically, an employee needs reperesentation to file and pursue a petition.
What if my claim is denied?
You technically can pursue a denied claim at any time within three years from the date of injury. We encourage you to pursue your claim sooner. The earlier the petition is filed, the better the odds are that your claim will be successful.
Pennsylvania workers compensation claims are not tried before a jury. Your petition is assigned to an administrative judge who will decide your case. This judge will determine whether or not you are entitled to the compensation that you seek. While you have the right to appeal any workers’ compensation judge’s decision, your best chance of winning is at the initial hearing stage.
Contact us for your workers compensation claim in Pennsylvania
The Wusinich, Brogan & Stanzione law firm has five (5) attorneys with considerable over 130 years of combined experience in representing injured workers. The head of our workers’ compensation department is editor of the prestigious Bissel’s Workers’ Compensation Newsletter. We desire to serve you and help you obtain the maximum compensation you are entitled to by law. We protect you from being stepped on by your Employer or its Insurance Company. If you are injured at work, call our offices in Downingtown (610-594-1600), West Chester (610-436-6280), or Reading (610-373-8550). We look forward to helping you fight or successfully resolve your case.