What Counts As An Injury?
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act defines an injury as any medical injury or illness a person suffers while at work, doing a work-related task.
I Was Hurt On The Job. What Next?
Being injured is tough and your recovery is important. There are a few things you should consider doing if you’d like to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Below is a step-by-step guide to what you should do once you are injured on the job.
1. Tell Your Employer
If you decide to pursue a WC claim, you need to tell your employer within 120 days of the injury. However, it is a good idea to tell your employer as soon as possible following the accident that caused your injury. Once you do, they should provide you with claim forms and you will have to fill out an incident report. Make sure you keep a copy of the forms for your records.
2. Your Employer Files A “First Report Of Injury”
The next step should be completed by your employer. They should send a report called a “first report of injury” to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. If you employer does not do this, you should tell them that they need to do so as soon as possible.
What If My Employer Doesn’t Have Worker’s Comp Insurance?
First, make sure that your employer does not fall under a few exempt categories of employers. If you work in agriculture or are a domestic or independent worker, your employer may not be required to have workers’ compensation insurance.
For workers whose employers are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance, the State Workers’ Insurance Fund may be able to cover your medical expenses.
If your employer claims not to have workers’ compensation, you should do one or both of the following:
- Call The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation at (717)-772-4447. They will be able to tell you if your employer is required to have workers’ compensation. They will also be able to direct you to the forms necessary for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- Call a workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss whether or not your employer should have had workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer falls under the category of employers that requires workers’ comp insurance and fails to have it, you may be able to pursue legal action against your employer for negligence.
3. Seek Medical Treatment
After you have notified your employer and they have committed to sending a report of first injury, you should go to your doctor and get treated for your injury. If your injury is so severe that you must leave work without formally reporting your injury to your boss, that is fine. However, you should strive to tell your employer as soon as you’re able after you receive treatment.
Once you are being treated, make sure that the medical professional knows that you have been injured while at work. Give them as many details as possible. While your incident report will have all of this information in it, the medical professional will be able to match your report to the resulting medical injuries, thus corroborating your case.
What If My Employer Says I Must See A Company Doctor?
This may be a legitimate requirement. However, your employer can only require that you see a company doctor if they have done the following things:
- Compile a list of six (at minimum) health care providers that you may see.
- Gives you, the employee, a written statement of your rights and duties to your employer in the event of your injury while at work.
- Receives a signature from you indicating that you have received the written statement of rights and duties.
If your employer has failed to do any of the above, you may not be required to use a company doctor for your medical treatment. However, if your employer has done all of the above, then you are only required to see the company doctor for the first 90 days following your injury. After 90 days, you can see your preferred medical practitioner.
When Does A Workers’ Comp Lawyer Come In?
Many people are not aware that while seeking legal council is not required when filing a WC claim, it is an excellent idea that can save you a lot of time, energy, and frustration. The claims forms can be very confusing and it is not difficult to misunderstand what is being asked of you. If this happens, you may fill out the form incorrectly, resulting in the claim being rejected.
That’s where a workers’ comp lawyer can help.
If you are unsure of your rights as a worker, if the forms are overwhelming, if your claim is denied, and if you generally want to seek legal council to get as much compensation as possible for your injuries, you should consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
What Kind Of Compensation Can I Get?
If you are injured at work, WC will compensate you for medical expenses and in some instances, a fraction of lost wages. However, WC does not cover the cost of pain and suffering.
WC law says that you cannot seek legal action against your employer for pain and suffering. However, if your injury falls under certain circumstances, you may be able to file a third party claim to cover these costs.
What Is A 3rd Party Claim?
A third party claim is made against a negligent party that is not the employer. Specifically, if you are injured at work due to a third party’s negligence, you can receive workers’ compensation from your employer (since you were injured at work), but you may also file a claim against the third party if their negligence contributed to your injury.
For instance, let’s say that you are a construction worker and your job is to operate the jackhammer. You’re jackhammering away and all of a sudden the machine malfunctions and scrap of metal shoots out from the handle, striking you in the eye. You require eye surgery, and will be out of work for 2 weeks.
You may file a workers’ comp claim that will cover the cost of your medical bills and part of your lost wages. However, you may be eligible to file a third party claim against the manufacturers of the jackhammer. A lawyer would be able to research and discover how the manufacturer may have neglected to provide safety warnings, troubleshoot their product to ensure safe handling and more. That way, you could make the claim that due to the third party’s negligence, you were injured. A third party claim could provide the compensation for pain and suffering that a workers’ comp case cannot provide.
Is There A Statute Of Limitations In PA?
Yes, for both WC claims and third party claims. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible following your injury to determine how much time you have to file WC or third party claims. You can call us toll-free at 800-681-7000 for a free consultation.