If you have been injured on the job, you need to be aware of certain, critical deadlines related to various aspects of workers’ compensation. Failure to meet these deadlines can lead to forfeiture of the benefits you have a right to under the law. Make sure that you know the deadlines for notifying your employer, seeking medical treatment, filing a claim, filing a claim petition, and seeking reinstatement of benefits.
Notifying Your Employer
The first deadline related to workers’ compensation is notifying your employer that you have been injured and will be seeking workers’ compensation (even if you are not yet sure that you plan to seek workers’ compensation). You have 21 days from the date of the injury to notify your employer, though you should do so as soon as possible. Make sure that you notify your employer/supervisor and not merely a coworker. In addition to speaking with your employer, also notify them in writing. You should include information such as the date, time, extent of the injury, and any contributing factors. This also helps to establish a timeline for when the injury occurred, which can become very important later on in the compensation process.
Seeking Medical Treatment
After you have been injured, you are required to seek treatment within 90 days from the date of the injury. Treatment from a physician on your employer’s list of approved medical providers may be required. It is important that your injury is documented by a medical professional, and this is a key step in that documentation. If you delay receiving treatment, it can cast doubt on the seriousness of your injury as well as the validity of your workers’ compensation claim.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
In order to receive workers’ compensation, you should file a workers’ compensation claim within 120 days of (a) the date you were injured or (b) the date that you became aware that your condition was work-related.
However, it is extremely unwise to delay filing your claim as in some circumstances it can result in your claim being denied even if you are within the 120 day period. Remember that part of the reason for claiming workers’ compensation is to receive medical attention. If you delay receiving medical attention it will call into doubt the seriousness of your injury which can cause problems later on during the claims process. It also makes it difficult to establish a clear timeline of your injury, which must remain consistent on all your paperwork. Failure to establish a timeline of events may have a negative effect on your claim.
There are exceptions to this 120 day deadline, such as chemical exposure, poisoning, or cancer. In these cases, the deadline is extended to 300 days. The Pennsylvania House is looking into extending this deadline even further because, as they point out, not all cases of illness from chemical exposure manifest in 300 days, nor do all cases of cancer, such as mesothelioma, fully manifest in that time period. A workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to help if you are unsure about the time limit on your particular claim.
Statute of Limitations for Claim Petitions
If you file for workers’ compensation and are denied either medical benefits or wage loss benefits, then you have 3 years from the date of the injury to file a claim petition. If you do not file a claim petition within that time period, you may be barred from collecting any workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. Keep in mind that many legitimate claims are initially denied, so a denial of benefits notice is no reason to stop pursuing your workers’ compensation claim.
Reinstatement of Benefits
If the insurance company suspends or terminates your benefits, there are deadlines for having those benefits reinstated. For suspended benefits in the case of partial disability, you have 500 weeks from the date on the last benefit check to file a petition. If your benefits were terminated, you have 3 years from the date on the last benefit check to file a petition. However, you should file a petition as soon as possible because every week your benefits are suspended or terminated is another week you are not being compensated for your injuries.
To be as clear as possible about what constitutes a filing date, here is an excerpt from Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law on the web page for the Department of Labor and Industry:
“The filing date is the date indicated on the United States Postal Service postmark or postal receipt. If the postmark or postal receipt is absent or unreadable, the filing date is the date of receipt by the Bureau. In all other instances, including electronic filing or hand-delivery, the filing date is the Bureau’s date of receipt.”
It is important to keep such rules in mind when filing a workers’ compensation claim, a claim petition, or for reinstatement of benefits. A workers’ compensation attorney will work to ensure your claim is not denied due to something as simple as an unreadable postmark or postal receipt.
Workers’ compensation deadlines are too important to be uninformed about. Make sure that you know the deadlines for key actions such as notifying your employer and filing a workers’ compensation claim, and also keep in mind how the law defines filing dates. And do not forget: if you are denied workers’ benefits, you are legally entitled to file a claim petition. You can also file a petition if your benefits are suspended or terminated.
If you or someone you love was injured on the job, time is of the essence when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim. At Hillsberg Law, we want to help you get the benefits that you deserve under the law. My name is Geoffrey Hilsberg, and Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law has been my focus since 1995. I can help you navigate the often complicated laws and rules surrounding workers’ compensation, ensuring you stay within the critical deadlines involved. Contact Hillsberg Law today and let me help you!