If you get hurt in an accident at work, your first thought is probably getting the medical care you need as soon as possible. Whether your employer provides on-site medical staff or you have to leave to see a doctor or go to a hospital, you may not stop to tell anybody about what happened.
Unless you are in immediate danger, however, leaving before you report your accident could actually prove to be a serious mistake. Those who get hurt in a workplace injury need to take certain steps to protect themselves. One of the first and most important steps for those who need workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania is the act of reporting the accident and injury to their employer or manager.
Details fade quickly after an accident
Human memory is frustratingly unreliable, especially in circumstances involving trauma or injury. Your brain may not commit the details of what happened to short- or long-term memory. Other times, hearing other people talk about the accident or incident can alter your perception of it and thus change your memory.
The potential for memory contamination or loss is one of the reasons why you should report your accident as soon as possible. You will be able to provide accurate information, such as the time of the accident, any witnesses present and other important pieces of information. Without that information, you may find yourself having difficulty asserting your claim for workers’ compensation in the future.
The more information your initial report includes, the easier it will be for you to substantiate your claim in the future by showing that the accident and injury really did occur at your place of employment.
If you take too long, the state may decline your claim
Generally speaking, reporting an injury or accident to your employer immediately is your best option. However, you may not be able to do that. If you have to leave before reporting the injury or are unconscious and can’t report the injury until you recover somewhat, you should make a priority of reporting what happened as soon as possible afterward.
Generally speaking, Pennsylvania expects workers to report an injury to their employer within 21 days. There are circumstances that may mean you can’t do it that quickly. However, if it takes you more than 120 days, you likely will not receive benefits at all unless you were unconscious or otherwise incapacitated for the entire time.
Timely reporting, complying with medical recommendations for both treatment and rest, and filing accurate and thorough claim paperwork are all critical to getting the workers’ compensation benefits you’ll need to get by after a serious workplace accident that injures you. You may find that seeking professional help for the process is in your best interests.