Here are a few of the steps you should follow to best protect your right to benefits under the PA Workers’ Compensation Act after you are injured at work.
1. Report Your Injury Immediately
Under the PA Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee has up to 120 days to report an injury. However, failure to report an injury promptly is often the reason that a claim ends up being denied. It is always advisable (even if the injury seems minor at the time) to report it to your employer as soon as possible. You should report the full scope of your injury to your supervisor or the individual designated by your employer to take such reports. Merely telling a co-worker about your injury is not sufficient.
It is helpful to document that you reported the injury by filling out an accident report, or you can follow up with your employer in writing to confirm that you reported the injury—which could be done via email, text message, or an old-fashioned letter, as long as you keep a copy of it.
2. Seek Medical Treatment
It is important to seek medical treatment as soon as you can following the injury, making sure to inform the medical professional of all injuries or symptoms you are experiencing. Many people take the first step of properly reporting their injury, but then make the mistake of not seeking medical treatment. They often mistakenly believe that the problem is not that severe and will resolve on its own, so they try to “work through it.” Often times many weeks go by before they determine the problem isn’t resolving. In most cases, the delay in receiving treatment makes it more difficult to have your injury deemed work-related.
3. Keep a Record Of All Discussions
An injured worker will talk to many people following their injury—the employer, medical professionals, and claims adjusters to name a few. It is important to carefully document who you spoke with, when you spoke with them, and the nature of the discussion.
You should also document specifically what you told the person about your injury. It is important that your answers remain consistent and accurate at all times. If a dispute arises later, your careful record keeping will be vital to your case.
4. Keep All Documentation Regarding the Claim
Following an injury, you will begin receiving paperwork about your claim. You will likely receive paperwork from the workers’ compensation carrier, your employer, and paperwork from the Bureau of Labor and Industry.
This paperwork will be critical for an attorney to review to assess the legal status of your claim. You should keep all of the paperwork you receive in one place—such as a folder or binder. That way if a dispute arises in regard to your claim you can quickly and easily supply the information to your attorney.
5. Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Work injuries can happen to anyone, at any time, and are often very confusing and stressful. Most people have never been injured at work before and do not know what to expect or who they can trust. Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies do not always timely and accurately convey to the injured worker their rights and responsibilities.
Contacting an attorney who handles workers’ compensation claims immediately following the injury will allow you to avoid the confusion and stress of the unknown. Your attorney can explain what you can expect following the injury, ensure that you are getting proper medical treatment, and review the paperwork that is generated on your claim to ensure that your right to benefits is properly protected.