If you get injured at work, you may be eligible for financial relief through Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system. This is a no-fault system, meaning you do not have to prove that your employer or a coworker caused your accident. You will qualify for benefits as long as you can show that your injury occurred in the course and scope of your employment. You may lose your chance to recover compensation, however, if you miss the statute of limitations. There are multiple deadlines that you must keep in mind for a valid claim.
120 Days to Report Your Injury
First, you must report your work-related injury or illness to your employer within 120 days. If you fail to do so, you will be ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Note, however, that your employer might have heard about the accident or your injury from someone else within the 120-day deadline. If you failed to notify your employer, therefore, don’t assume that you have lost the chance to file. You may still have the right to do so.
It is generally in your best interest to report your injury to your employer as soon as you can. In Pennsylvania, if you notify your employer within 21 days, you will receive compensation for lost wages and other expenses as of the date of the injury. After 21 days have passed, you will only receive benefits as of the date that you reported the injury. Prompt reporting can move your claim along and result in better benefits.
90 Days Before Choosing Your Own Doctor
Another time limit that applies to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claims is the 90-day period where you must go to a physician on your employer’s list of approved providers for medical care. You must see an approved provider for at least 90 days before you can switch doctors and see a physician of your choice. Some cases, however, are exceptions to this rule.
Three Years to File a Workers’ Comp Claim
Once you’ve reported the injury or illness to your employer, you must contend with the statute of limitations for filing the claim. A statute of limitations is a strict deadline imposed by law. In Pennsylvania, the deadline on a workers’ comp claim is three years from the date of the injury. For the most part, the clock on this statute of limitations starts ticking on the date that the work injury takes place. If you don’t discover your injury or illness right away, however, or its connection to your job, you have three years from the date of discovery.
If your employer has already paid you for an injury after you reported it but you never filed an official claim, you have three years from the last payment that you received to do so. You may have more time than this, however, if your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance carrier deceived you into thinking that your claim had been accepted. These are complicated situations that can benefit from hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania
If you’re ready to file a workers’ comp claim for your recent workplace injury or illness in Pennsylvania, start by consulting with a lawyer. A lawyer can guide you easily through the claims process while protecting your legal rights and best interest. Document everything, including details about your accident, photographs, your medical records and communications with your employer about the incident. Once you’ve notified your employer and are seeing an approved physician, you can begin the claims-filing process.
Your employer will start your claim by filing a First Report of Injury Form to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Bureau. Your employer might also need to submit additional forms, such as the Statement of Wages. The workers’ comp insurance process will involve an investigation by the insurance claims adjuster, which may require your cooperation. Keep in mind that the insurance company will not want what is best for you. Insurance companies always prioritize their bottom lines over claimants. Before accepting a workers’ comp settlement, contact an attorney to discuss your case in more detail.