A common question for injured workers in Pennsylvania is what happens after they get hurt.
The first step is Notice. This is a critical element of a viable workers’ compensation claim. You must give notice within 120 days or the claim is forever barred. But you want to give notice immediately upon realizing that you were injured while working. Otherwise, the wage loss benefits can be delayed. Does notice have to be written? No, but that’s always stronger than verbal notice. Tell a manager or supervisor or owner how you got injured, what you were doing that caused it, and what you injured.
Next, ask if you need to fill out an incident report. Also ask if the Employer has a list of “panel” doctors– these are employer picked doctors that treat an injured worker for the first 90 days. However, there are exceptions to this rule so contact us to find out how or if you can circumvent this requirement. Panel doctors tends to be family physicians who are biased towards the Employer and who usually minimize the nature of the injury- often chalking up the diagnoses as a “sprain” or “contusion.”
Make sure to contact us. The earlier the injured worker lawyers up, the better. Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law is quite complicated and the insurers have guidance from attorneys on their side- so should you! All fees under the PA Work Comp Act are contingent- meaning we must have a Court Order approving a fee to get paid. And we cover costs. You should never pay a PA Work Comp Attorney an hourly rate. We get 20% of wage loss benefits but only if we get wage loss benefits for you, settle the case, prevent the insurer from reducing your benefits, or otherwise improve your case such as by adding work-related diagnoses by way of a Petition to Review.
Getting the best medical treatment is really important so consult with your attorney and family doctor if you have one, about what treatment you’re getting in the early stages- to see if it’s appropriate given the symptoms you feel.
Once notice is given to the insurer/employer, the work comp carrier will have 21 days to accept your claim, deny it, or temporarily accept it. They issue a Notice of Compensation Payable, a Temporary Notice of Compensation Payable, or a Notice of Denial. They can accept medical benefits only if they don’t believe the work injury is causing wage loss, or they can accept wage loss and medical benefits. Talk to us about what was issued in your case so we can monitor.
If you receive restrictions from your treating physician- make sure to communicate these immediately to your supervisor/manager. The burden will then shift to the Employer to advise you if they can accommodate the restrictions. This raises two issues. One, are the restrictions appropriate? And, two, is the work that Employer says is available, truly within these restrictions. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard from injured workers that the Employer claimed “light duty” was available only to find out that the job really wasn’t “light duty”- but something more.
These are just some of the initial issues that will arise early in a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation case. We’re here to help so call or email us 7 days a week.