Some clients are reluctant to notify their employers that they have suffered a work-related injury. They may assume that they will soon recover or that their employer may be angry with them if they claim that they were injured at work.
However, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act requires that an employee satisfy all the requirements of the Act to be eligible for compensation. To that effect, Section 311 of the Act requires that a Notice of Injury be given to the employer within 120 days of the injury.
If proper notice is not given to the employer, you will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
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How Soon Should You Report The Injury?
Although the Act allows for the notice to be given to the employer within 120 days, we strongly suggest that you do it as soon as possible. Insurance companies typically use delays as grounds to dismiss or deny work injury claims.
So, report your injury or work-related illness to your employer or supervisor without any delays to ensure a smooth compensation process.
The Process of Reporting a Work-Related Injury
Start with a simple, written notice to your employer telling them that you were hurt on the job. Share when it happened, where, and how. Include brief details about your injury. As we said previously, insurance companies frequently deny claims if there is a lapse of time between the injury and when it was reported to the supervisor. So, make sure there is no substantial delay between the two instances.
– Send a written notice to the employer
Although the Act does not require that a written notice of injury be given to the employer, we strongly suggest that the employer receive prompt written notice of the injury.
– Add details
Simply advising your employer that you injured your back or that your back hurts is also not sufficient. You should state how, when, and where the injury happened and make sure that you advise your employer that it was work-related.
Notice of an exact diagnosis is not necessary to provide adequate notice of a work injury. A reasonably precise description of the injury is required.
– Create a paper trail
If verbal notice is provided, we would suggest that the employee promptly confirm the same in writing, either by email or text, and make it clear what the confirmation is about. Simply put, mention your work injury in the email.
– Keep a copy
Also, keep a copy of the email or text you’ve sent to the employer as proof that proper written notice was sent to them, complete with a date and time stamp.
– Notifying a colleague isn’t enough
Notice to a co-worker is generally not deemed to be legally sufficient! Notice should be given to your supervisor, manager, or owner of the company.
The Notice of the Injury is Necessary to Receive Compensation
Unless the employer has knowledge of the injury, the injured employee must provide notice of the work injury within 21 days to be eligible to receive compensation from the date of injury onward.
If the injured worker does not provide notice within 21 days, no compensation is due until the day notice is provided.
Again, it is with very limited exceptions that an injured worker will be totally barred from receiving any benefits if notice of the injury is not provided within 120 days from the date of injury.
The Notice is Proof of Your Injury
Workers’ compensation insurance companies often look for any reason to deny a claim. A delay in receiving notice is an immediate red flag and a frequent basis to deny claims.
The employee has the burden of proving the employer’s actual receipt of the notice. An employee’s mere statement that a letter was mailed to the employer is not sufficient.
Likewise, slipping a notice under a manager’s door without proof that the manager actually received it is not adequate to establish notice. The best proof is a copy of the email or text to the employer that contains the date of the email or text.
What Happens After You Send the Notice
After proper notice of a work injury is provided, the employer is then required to report your injuries to its insurer. Within 21 days of receiving notification, employers then must decide whether to accept or deny liability for your injury. Employers may also choose to provide you with temporary compensation while they extend the investigation for 90 days.
Talk to an Experienced Work Comp Lawyer
Employees should promptly obtain guidance from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney when they suffer a work-related injury. Claims are frequently denied for little or no reason at all, and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can file appropriate petitions and litigate claims to achieve the best results for the injured worker.