Written by attorney Ronald Lee Calhoon

How and When Do I Tell My Employer About My Work injury?

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, you are requiredto give notice (tell your employer) of your injury AND that it is work-relatedwithin120 days from the date of your injury. Telling anyone at work that you sustained an injury is not enough. There are specific people that must be notified within the company or the insurance company before a claim will be legally recognized. While you should inform your union steward or representative, youmust tell a person in a position of “supervisory authority," namely a line supervisor, a director of nursing, a company nurse, or better yet, the human resource director. If your employer ignores you by refusing to complete an accident report, you should make notes of who you informed, the date you reported the injury, and that they refused your request to have an accident report filed. You then should provide a handwritten note providing notice of the work injury. You may also contact the workers’ compensation carrier directly or have an attorney provide formal written notice.

An accident report is a document required by the Department of Labor and Industry to be completed by the employer within fifteen (15) days from the date of your injury. This is true regardless of the severity of your injury.

Some employees are reluctant to report minor injuries. While itistrue that a minor injury usually will not develop into a serious condition, that is not always the case. “I didn’t think it was serious or would lead to this." is not an exception to the PennsylvaniaWorkers’ CompensationAct’s notice requirements. Minor work injuries require the same notice as immediately debilitating injuries and, unfortunately, many injuries that initially appear to be minor result in lifelong impairments! While a few narrow exceptions do exist, failure to provide legally sufficient and timely notice of the work injury forever bars a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

Once the accident report is completed, the workers' comp insurance company has twenty-one (21) days to accept or deny your claim in writing. If they fail to accept or deny your claim within twenty-one (21) days, you should immediately contact an attorney for representation. A simple phone call or letter from an attorney is all that may be needed to prod the insurance company to take their obligation to you seriously. If the insurance company issues a denial, then your private health insurance company is legally required to pay for your treatment during the pendency of your workers’ compensation case.

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