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What Should I Do If I Have a Workplace Injury?

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What should I do if I have a workplace injury?

If you suffer an injury at your workplace, report it immediately. Even if you do not think you have been injured, immediately report the incident to your manager or supervisor. If, in the following days or weeks, you realize you have suffered an injury, having already reported the accident makes later legal action and reporting much more credible.

How Do I Report a Workplace Injury?

If you are injured on the job or are suffering from a work-related illness, you should immediately report your condition to your supervisor. If your condition has grown worse over time — such as with a repetitive motion injury — you should report it to your supervisor as soon as you believe it is related to your work. In Pennsylvania, you have 120 days to report an injury. If you do not report it within 30 days of when it occurred, you will not be entitled to benefits until the date that you report it. If you do not report it within 120 days you will likely be completely barred from pursuing your claim. You also have three years from the date your injury occurred to file a petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation if your claim is denied.

If you are seriously injured, your first course of action is to seek immediate medical care. After you have been properly treated for any serious injuries, fill out an injury or accident report from your supervisor to have a record of your injury. If your employer does not have a report that you can fill out you should write down the injury details including when to whom you reported it and, after making a copy for your own records, give it to your supervisor, safety director or HR department.

Most accident reports ask you to include:

  • The kind of injury you have suffered.
  • The circumstances behind the accident.
  • The parties involved.
  • The day and time of the accident and where it occurred
  • Any medical treatment you have received because of the injury

To have the best record, include as many details as possible. Mention every part of your body that was affected. After you fill out the form, make a copy for yourself and give the original to your employer.

Fill out the form accurately and honestly. Resist the urge to include embellishments or hyperbole. Providing false information on your accident report could result in a denial of workers’ compensation benefits.

Avoid These Common Mistakes When Reporting a Workplace Injury

Failure to comply with the standards of the Workers’ Compensation Act in Pennsylvania will result in a denial of workers’ compensation benefits. Remember to avoid these common mistakes when reporting an injury.

The injury must be reported to a supervisor, not a coworker, to be considered proper notice to your employer. Simply telling a coworker what happened is not considered proper notice under the Act and accept likely result in a denial of your workers’ compensation claim.

Another common reason why workers’ compensation claims are denied is that the medical records of your doctors may not accurately reflect how your injury occurred or all of the injuries sustained. When you do seek medical treatment it is, therefore, very important that you tell each new doctor you see how your injury happened at work and all your body parts that were injured.

How Long Do You Have to Report an Injury at Work?

Under Pennsylvania state law, you have 120 days after a workplace accident to report an injury. You have three years to file a workers’ compensation claim from the date your injury occurred. To comply with Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for reporting a workplace injury, report any accident to your supervisor or manager as soon as possible.

No matter how insignificant you think your injury may be at the time, you should report it to your supervisor right away. Many times, an injury does not seem too bad when it happens, but over the next few days or weeks, it will become more severe. Failure to immediately report an injury is a common reason why an employer’s insurance carrier denies workers’ compensation claims.

How long do I have to report a work injury?

You may feel like you are wasting the company’s time — as well as your own — by reporting a work-related injury. However, when you suffer an injury while on the job, these benefits are in place to help you be a better employee and to have a better quality of life. It is not selfish to report an injury as soon as possible, no matter how small it may be.

When you report the injury, you should also request medical treatment. Even if you do not think that medical treatment is necessary, you should ask for a list of doctors who can treat you for a work-related injury should your injury worsen later.

Work-Related Requirements

If you have suffered an injury — or an illness or a trauma — and you want to claim workers’ compensation benefits, you need to prove the injury was related to your job.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines a workplace injury or illness as “job-related” if the injury happened because of an event or exposure while on the job site, or if they develop certain injuries or illnesses related to the job site over time.

Suppose you repair phone lines for a telephone company and, while climbing a phone pole, you fall and suffer an injury. You are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits after such an incident because the injury was work-related. It does not need to happen on your exact job site if your injury was related to your job.

What Injuries Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

If your job causes or materially contributes to any injury, illness or disease, you are entitled to benefits. Workers’ compensation insurance covers injuries both on and off the premises, as long as they occur in the course of employment. Discover if you qualify for workers’ compensation insurance for any of the following work-related injuries.

What injuries are covered by workers' compensation insurance?

1. Aggravation of Preexisting Health Problems

You are entitled to benefits if your job aggravates a preexisting medical condition. For example, if you had a bad back when you started the job, and injure your back further while working, you are still eligible for workers’ compensation insurance.

2. Repetitive Trauma Injuries

You can develop repetitive trauma injuries by performing the same job-related activity continually. A repetitive trauma injury may include a back injury from heavy lifting over many years or carpal tunnel syndrome caused by job duties like typing, computer work, assembly work or machine operation.

3. Occupational Illnesses

An occupational illness or disease is one that an employee develops because of repeated or even sudden exposure to a dangerous or toxic chemical or material. Health issues from long-term exposure to coal dust or asbestos are examples of occupational illnesses. Other examples people may not normally consider would be a machinist who works with industrial lubricants and develops contact dermatitis, or a healthcare worker accidentally stuck with a needle who then develops hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.

4. Hearing Loss

Workers’ compensation benefits will typically cover hearing loss in employees who work in a noisy environment — such as construction workers, or waitstaff in bars where the music is played continuously at high volumes.

5. Stress-Related Injuries

Constant stress is linked to a wide variety of physical and psychological illnesses. While filing a claim for workers’ compensation based on any illness caused by stress on the jobsite is difficult, if you have evidence that stress caused your injury, you are entitled to compensation.

Some states will accept PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) claims. These claims are often allowed if your injury is the result of an unexpected and traumatic event, such as a bank robbery, a school shooting or workplace violence. If you suffer an illness as a result of an event, make sure you report your discomfort to your supervisor or manager after the incident.

6. Stress Resulting From Physical Injuries on the Job

Psychological conditions resulting from work-related physical injuries generally qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Physical injuries often bring pain, loneliness, and changes to an individual’s lifestyle that can lead to depression and anxiety. These conditions can be included as a “compensable consequence” of the original on-the-job injury.

What doesn't count as a workplace-related injury? [list]

What Doesn’t Count as a Workplace-Related Injury?

Although you will be entitled to benefits from most workplace-related injuries, you are not entitled to injuries that occur:

  • On a lunch break unless you are a traveling employee
  • On your regular commute
  • If you are not in the furtherance of your employer’s affairs or business
  • Due to personal misconduct

What If I Am Responsible for the On-the-Job Accident?

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. As long as your injury was not caused by personal misconduct you should be eligible for workers’ compensation. You should notify your supervisor or manager that you have been injured and a workers’ compensation claim should be submitted.

What Is Personal Misconduct?

If you are drunk or under the influence of a drug, or violated a positive work order, and this caused your injury, or intentionally self-inflicted your injury, then you are not eligible for workers’ compensation.

Personal misconduct can may you ineligible for workers' compensation.

Keep in mind that employers will try to use the defining terms of personal misconduct against you. Employers who want to deny injured employees workers’ compensation will blame drug use or alcoholism as being fully or partially responsible for their injuries. Contact a workers’ compensation attorney if your employer falsely claims that you are not eligible for workers’ compensation because of alcohol or drug use.

Do I Need a Witness for a Work Injury Claim?

A witness can play a vital role in a workers’ compensation case. Witnesses could have been close by and heard a loud noise instead of physically seeing your injury take place. As soon as you can, collect the names of all the witnesses and give them to your workers’ compensation attorney. Witnesses are beneficial for your case if your claim goes to court and the judge requires evidence.

Although witnesses are helpful for your case, witnesses are not required for a work injury claim. Your attorney and the employer’s insurance company may be able to come to a fair settlement without a court trial.

Can I Sue My Employer?

You cannot file a lawsuit against your employer for an on-the-job injury. Your only recourse is workers’ compensation benefits. On the other hand, if someone other than your employer, or in the employ of your employer, is responsible for your injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that other party.

Your only recourse for an on-the-job injury is workers' compensation benefits.

For example, if you are in a car wreck while working, you may be able to sue the other at-fault driver. In most instances, the workers’ compensation insurance company is entitled to be reimbursed for the wage loss and medical payments they made, from any monies you receive from that other party. It is, therefore, essential to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer if you believe that someone other than your employer is responsible for your injury.

When Should I Return to Work?

If you plan to return to work after an injury, you should do so as soon as you are physically able. Resuming work as soon as possible will restore your confidence in your abilities, as well as provide you more income. Discuss your return to work plan with your physician and with your workers’ compensation attorney.

You are still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits when you return to work. Your benefits will still cover any medical expenses incurred as a result of your injury, and any ongoing wage loss that may result from working with restrictions.

When Should I Get a Lawyer for a Work-Related Injury?

Suffering from a workplace-related injury is not a simple thing. Dealing with the rules and the timelines of workplace-related injuries is often confusing and frustrating. Many employers’ insurance company agents will attempt to reach a settlement with an injured worker in the first few days after the injury occurs. They know the worker can be in a fragile state and possibly open to a settlement. Or, your employer may fight your claim and insist your own misconduct was responsible for your injury.

An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can look at your case, help you understand which injuries will be eligible for benefits, and let you know about the state’s time limits for filing a claim. They can also assist you in keeping track of important information like doctors’ visits, medical bills, and emergency room visits, interview witnesses, and develop evidence to help you win your claim.

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When You Suffer a Workplace-Related Injury, Contact KBG Injury Law

If you have any more questions or concerns, please contact us for a free consultation. Or, you can call us at 1-800-509-1101. Our experienced, knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys can answer all of your questions about returning to work, as well as how to file a work-related injury report.

During this challenging time, our attorneys are advocating more than ever. While our physical offices are closed, we are all working remotely to ensure you still get the Results You Deserve. To all of our current clients, you can connect with us the same way you always do via email, phone, fax or text. To all of our prospective clients, the best way to get in touch with us is by using our contact form or by calling (800) 509-1011