Why You Should Report a Workplace Accident in Pennsylvania
November 2, 2023 | Workplace Accidents
The purpose of the workers’ compensation system is to compensate employees for work-related accidents and illnesses. This purpose is undermined if any employee or employer fails to report a workplace accident. Still, failure to report workplace accidents, as well as significant delays in reporting them, is a common practice.
The Purpose of the Workers’ Compensation System
Millions of employees suffer workplace accidents every year. If every injured employee filed a personal injury claim, the system could easily be overwhelmed. The workers’ compensation system is a response to that state of affairs.
Two major innovations define the workers’ compensation system:
- It is no-fault in the sense that you don’t have to prove your employer was at fault to claim compensation. In most cases, you can qualify for compensation even if the accident was your fault. However, you are only entitled to two-thirds of your previous weekly wage, up to a maximum of $1,273 per week (in 2023).
- Unlike the case with ordinary personal injury claims, you cannot qualify for non-economic damages or punitive damages. You can only qualify for economic damages.
You can still file an ordinary personal injury claim seeking non-economic damages, if you can find a third party who you can prove was responsible for your injuries.
The Employee Reporting Deadline
Every state has its own workers’ compensation system. Although the system is broadly similar across the entire United States, deadlines differ from state to state. Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, as an employee, you must report your workplace accident to your employer within 21 days. The sooner you file, the better.
Your employer should provide you with the forms you need to fill out. You should complete them and return them to your employer. You can forfeit your entire claim if you fail to report your accident within 120 days of its occurrence.
Why Some Employees Don’t Report Workplace Accidents
Suppose, for example, that you suffer a slip and fall accident due to uneven floorboards in a frequently-used stairwell. Your employer might discourage you from reporting your accident in order to avoid the expense of repairing the stairwell.
Some employers resort to more underhanded methods to discourage the reporting of workplace accidents. They might offer employees bonuses or other rewards, for example, for a certain number of days without an accident. This approach might not actually reduce the rates of workplace accidents but rather reduce the rate of the reporting of these accidents.
What To Do When Your Employer Refuses To Report Your Workplace Accident
Your employer must report your accident to their own workers’ compensation insurance carrier as well as the state workers’ compensation board.
If your employer refuses to do so, you can contact the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. Under certain circumstances, you can take legal action, such as by filing a Petition for Penalties. Seek advice from an attorney before you proceed with these steps.
What Happens If You Delay Reporting a Workplace Accident
Don’t delay reporting your workplace accident. If you do, you can expect the following negative consequences:
- Your workers’ workers’ compensation benefits might be delayed. If you wait long enough, you might completely forfeit your claim.
- You will suffer a delay in diagnosing your injury. You will experience a delay in medical treatment as well, unless you pay for medical treatment out of your own pocket. A delay could adversely impact your health. In a worst-case scenario, it might even result in your death.
- You might lose your job if your injuries prevent you from returning to work. Nevertheless, you will not have the documentation of your work injuries necessary to claim wage replacement benefits. This could put you in a no-win situation of your own making.
- Your employer is less likely to repair the dangerous condition that injured you in the first place, leaving you and your co-workers exposed to further risk.
- You won’t have any proof of your employer’s violation of OSHA regulations.
The end result of delaying an accident report will be to encourage your employer to delay repairing the stairwell if they ever repair it at all. You might suffer another stairwell injury, and so might your co-workers.
A Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Advise You of Your Rights
If you suffered a workplace injury but fear the consequences of reporting it, you need to speak to a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Don’t worry—there is no obligation for an initial consultation.
Contact the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers In Pennsylvania at Marzzacco Niven & Associates For Legal Help With Your Case Today
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945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
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2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
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937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140