Workers’ compensation covers medical bills and replaces lost wages, but these benefits don’t begin until you give notice of your injury or illness to your employer. Giving notice is one of the most important step you take after you’ve been hurt on the job. How do you make sure you properly give effective notice to your employer?
The workers’ compensation practice of Nikolaus & Hohenadel is dedicated to making sure injured workers get the financial support they need. We will walk you through your claim, step by step, and answer any questions you have.
The Effective Notice Requirement After An Injury
If you’ve been hurt at work you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. But nothing happens unless and until you give notice to your employer. You should report your injury or illness as soon as possible. Immediately after the injury if possible. If you want your wage loss compensation to be retroactive to the first day you were hurt, you must give notice no more than 21 days after the incident.
Under Pennsylvania law, failure to give notice within 120 days of your injury means you won’t receive any benefits at all. This 120-day period starts to run once a worker knows, or reasonably should know, that their injury or illness is work-related.
If your effective notice is given after the initial 21-day period, but before the full 120 days have run, you will be entitled to wage loss benefits only as of the date you gave notice.
The date of injury can be tricky
A slip and fall is a straightforward, one-time injury. It is easy to know when the injury occurred and therefore when to report the injury. But other, more subtle injuries present a more complicated question as to when the injury actually occurred. Repetitive trauma injuries fall in this category. The classic example is carpal tunnel syndrome. The law allows an injured worker to argue that the last date of work is the date of injury and that is the date which triggers the notice requirement. In other words that is the date from which 21 day and 120 day clock begin to run.
The best advice, in any case, is to report any injury, repetitive or otherwise, as soon as you know it may be work related.
Who Should Receive Effective Notice Of My Injury?
It’s not enough to notify a co-worker that you were hurt or became ill. You have to notify your supervisor, manager, or a company officer. The law may consider the employer adequately notified if it had actual or constructive notice (meaning, if it should have known about the injury under the circumstances). It is best to provide notice of your injury even if you believe the employer already knows about it. You cannot prove what the employer know but you can prove what you told them..
What Should The Notice Contain?
Your notice should first and foremost be written. Never rely on verbal notice, since it creates no record that you informed your employer. An often disputed issues in workers’ compensation cases is whether the injured worker gave proper, timely notice. There may be forms available from your employer which you can use to give notice. Make a copy of any form you fill out and keep it for your records.
Second, your notice should include details of the nature of the injury and how it occurred. Therefore, make sure you include sufficient detail to link the injury to your job, even if you think your employer already knows about it.
Every injury is different, but a good starting place of what to include in your notice is:
- The date, time, and location of the injury
- What precisely happened – did you fall? Were you burned? Include all injuries, even minor ones
- The part or parts of the body that were injured
- If you suffered an occupational illness, give the name of the condition or disease
- What you were doing when the accident occurred
- Any witnesses to the accident
Do I Notify My Medical Provider?
By law, your employer is required to notify its workers’ compensation insurance carrier after you have given notice of your injury. Relying on them to do so, however, is a bad idea. Seek medical treatment and be sure to give a clear description of the injury to your medical provider. It’s critical that the injury be documented in your medical records, so give your doctor the sort of details you already provided to your employer.
Contact Our Lancaster Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The rules concerning notice and treatment of your injuries can be confusing. On top of that, the prospect of giving insufficient notice, and invalidating your claim, can be scary.
At Nikolaus & Hohenadel, our only concern is that you receive the compensation you need to move forward from your workplace accident or illness. Let us handle the legal work while you focus on getting better. Call us today to get started on your workers’ compensation case.