Steps to Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
June 6, 2022 | Workers’ Compensation
The workers’ compensation system is a replacement for personal injury lawsuits, and it applies to most work-related injuries and occupational illnesses.
Workers’ comp claims are typically no-fault, but you can only seek compensation for economic damages–medical expenses and lost earnings. You cannot claim damages for pain and suffering or other non-economic losses.
Following is a list of steps you need to take after a work injury.
Get Medical Treatment
Workers’ compensation requires a work-related physical injury, and the only way you can prove one is by seeking immediate medical attention. Medical records are one of the most convincing forms of evidence.
If you delay medical treatment, you might make it look like your injuries were not caused by the accident. If you delay reporting a head injury, for example, your injury might look like it could have happened in a softball game after work.
Report Your Injury to Your Employer
In Pennsylvania, you must report your work injury to your employer within 21 days of its occurrence. If you wait more than 120 days, you will lose your right to benefits. If you are filing for a long-term occupational illness instead of an injury that happened at once, the relevant deadlines are calculated as the day your doctor notifies you of the illness. This is as opposed to the day a specific work accident occurred.
Your report can be verbal or in writing, and you can report personally or have a representative report on your behalf. It should include all relevant details of the circumstances. For legal purposes, it is better to report your accident in writing. For practical purposes, it is best to notify your employer verbally as soon as you can after the accident, even if you need to delay written notification until later.
Complete Claim Documentation and Have Your Employer File It With the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
You must request the workers’ compensation documentation from your employer. You must fill it out, and your employer must file it with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Keep copies of it for your own records.
Other Ways to Protect Your Claim
Observe the following tips to protect your claim:
- Strictly follow all of your doctor’s recommendations (so you don’t share the blame for your injuries);
- Keep a diary detailing all of the ways that your injuries have impacted your life; and
- Record all costs associated with your injuries, even parking fees at hospitals and other such incidental expenses.
The more documentation you have, the easier it will be for you to appeal the decision on your claim if you need to.
Wait for Workers’ Comp to Approve or Deny Your Claim
Workers’ comp must either accept or reject your claim within 21 days after you file it, or request a 90-day extension of time to make a final decision (during which time you will receive temporary benefits).
Appeal or Request Reconsideration
If workers’ comp denies your claim, you have three years to appeal by filing a Claim Petition for Workers’ Compensation with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. You and the insurance company will have the opportunity to participate in an adversarial hearing. Ultimately, your case will probably settle through mediation or negotiation. The court, however, is empowered to rule on your claim.
You can further appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and finally to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Very few claims make it this far.
Return to Work
Return to work as soon as your doctor gives you medical clearance because you cannot claim benefits for time off work once your doctor decides that you are fit to work.
Your Chances Are Better If You Hire an Attorney
You don’t have to go to court to hire an attorney. An attorney can represent you during the entirety of your workers’ comp claim. Your lawyer might even be able to find a loophole that would allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers In Pennsylvania at Marzzacco Niven & Associates For Legal Help With Your Case Today
Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610