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Workers' Compensation Questions Answered: What Should I Do If I Suffer A Work Injury?

July 29, 2011

What should I do if I suffer a work injury?

When you suffer an injury as a result of an accident or repetitive injury, you should give notice to your supervisor or any other person designated by your employer immediately. You should report the injury even if you do not anticipate missing time from work. Notice can be given either verbally or in writing. If required, complete an incident report.

If you require medical treatment, you should request the list of designated health care providers approved to treat work injuries. You are required to treat with these physicians for up to 90 days after the date of your first visit to the doctor. If your employer does not have a list of approved doctors, seek medical treatment from any physician.

Within 21 days of your injury, your employer or its insurance company must notify you whether they agree that you sustained a work injury. The company is required to issue a form entitled Notice of Compensation Payable, which agrees that you have a work-related injury, or a Notice of Compensation Denial, which denies that you have a work injury.

If your claim is accepted, review the Notice of Compensation Payable to determine whether your injury is described accurately and whether your wages are accurate.

If your claim is denied, seek medical care with your own physician and obtain legal advice.

What is a compensable injury?

Under Pennsylvania law, the following conditions are considered compensable injuries:

1. Specific incidents that cause an injury.

2. Repetitive activity resulting in an injury. This includes conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive movement.

3. A pre-existing condition that has been aggravated by work activities. This includes conditions like arthritis, heart disease The pre-existing condition does not have to be work-related for the aggravation to be covered under workers’ compensation.

How should a work related injury or disease be reported?

It is your responsibility to report an injury or disease to your employer as soon as possible. The report should include an explanation of the time, place and type of injury. The notice must contain an explanation as to how the injury occurred and how it was work related. Although oral notice is legally sufficient, it is best if the notice is in writing. You should retain a photocopy of the notice.

You should give as much information as possible to your employer regarding the circumstances surrounding the injury. The report may be given to the employer by you or by someone acting on your behalf.

There are two (2) time limits which are strictly enforced:

1. Notice given more than one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of injury, unless the employer already knows of the injury, will probably result in the loss of workers’ compensation benefits; and

2. You must give notice within twenty-one (21) days from the date of injury in order to receive benefits from the first day of injury, unless the employer already has knowledge of the injury.

3. Thus, if you do not give notice until the twenty-second day after the injury occurred, you will only receive workers’ compensation benefits from that date on. If notice is given within twenty-one (21) days, however, you will receive benefits from the first day of injury.

How should an occupational disease be reported?

The time period for giving notice of an occupational disease begins to run when you know or should know that your occupational disease is related to employment. The important thing to remember is that if you learn that you have contracted an occupational disease, you should provide immediate notice to your employer, or a previous employer even if you have not worked for the employer recently. It is sufficient for someone acting on your behalf, including your doctor, to provide such notice. The notice, however, must contain a statement that the disease is work related.

Willig, Williams & Davidson Workers' Compensation Lawyers

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Willig, Williams & Davidson have a deep knowledge of workers’ comp law. Our work injury lawyers use our workers’ compensation expertise and a broad client base to leverage the best possible results for our clients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and beyond. Our Workers’ Compensation Department provides advice, counseling and legal representation to sick and injured workers, to make sure that they receive 100 percent of the benefits required by law.

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