If you have been injured at work, you should be mindful of the time limits the law places on making a claim for compensation for your injuries and damages. Waiting too long to file a claim for a workplace injury may cause you to lose out on important rights and critical sources of financial recovery.
Steps to Take After a Workplace Accident in Pittsburgh PA
When you are injured on the job, things can quickly become overwhelming. Your usual workday is transformed into daily medical visits and a long road toward recovery. You might need to figure out additional things like childcare and transportation. If you are unable to return to work for an extended length of time, the household bills can quickly add up, putting you in a difficult financial position. During this hectic time, it is easy to lose track of time. Unfortunately, time plays an important role in recovering the compensation that you need to deal with your injury. After you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, you should be sure to take the following steps as soon as possible after your accident:
- Report your injury to your employer. If you don’t timely report your workplace accident to your employer, your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer can later deny your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Document the accident scene, if possible. Try to take photographs of whatever it was that caused your injury, whether there were any safety measures in place, and any visible injuries you suffered. If there were eyewitnesses to your accident, try to get a short statement or their contact information in case you need to take a statement from them at a later date. Be sure to also obtain a copy of the accident or incident report prepared by your employer or its workers’ compensation carrier.
- Seek medical attention. If you fail to seek medical treatment after your accident, or if you ignore your medical provider’s treatment instructions and recommendations, your employer might argue that you weren’t injured or seriously injured and can return to work with no further restrictions or benefits.
- Speak to an experienced workplace accident attorney to learn more about your rights and options for compensation, including filing a claim for workers’ comp or filing a lawsuit against a third-party responsible for your accident.
Understanding the Importance of Statute of Limitations in Work Injuries
There are many factors to consider when determining the statute of limitations regarding a work-related injury. Just a few of these factors include the following:
The location of your employer and injury will dictate the time in which you have to report it. Generally, in Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for appealing the denial of a workers’ compensation claim is three years from the date of the injury. However, the type of injury, who is at fault, and the extent of the injuries can also affect the time limits, either shortening or extending the timeline.
Type of Injury
Many work-related injuries will fall under workers’ compensation. Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, an employee is expected to report a workplace injury within 21 days of the injury; for a work-related illness, an employee is expected to make a report with his or her employer within 120 days of the onset of symptoms or no later than 300 weeks from the last day of employment. If you are denied compensation benefits by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer in the state of Pennsylvania, then you have three years from the date of the injury to file a petition. If your injury falls into the personal injury category in the state of Pennsylvania (usually if your injury was caused by a third party, like a negligent driver or the manufacturer of defective equipment), then you will have just two years from the date of the injury to file a claim. Types of personal injury claims that might arise from a workplace accident include motor vehicle accidents, products liability accidents (such as accidents involving defective equipment or machinery), or premises liability accidents (such as slip and fall accidents or inadequate security leading to injury from criminal acts).
It is important to note that there are different time limits when filing a claim, notifying your employer, or taking any other important steps regarding your workers’ compensation claim. The state of Pennsylvania has the following time limits:
- Notification: The injured employee is required to notify their employer of any work-related injuries within 21 days of the injury occurring
- Occupational disease: If your injury is related to an occupational disease, then you have just 300 weeks from the last date of employment to file a claim
- Denied/forfeited benefits: If you are wrongfully denied or forfeited of your workers’ compensation benefits, then you have just three years to file an appeal. Failing to maintain these time limits can make it difficult, if not impossible, to collect the compensation that you need to deal with your work injury.
Reasons to Work With a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Failing to meet Pennsylvania’s timelines as they relate to workers’ compensation claims can make you ineligible for the benefits that you deserve. It can be overwhelming to deal with an injury, while also maintaining these time limits. When you work with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, you can focus on your recovery and leave the timelines to your legal representative. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can also assist you with building and filing your case, ensuring that all of the necessary documents are included with your application. Not only can this speed up the claims process, but it can also increase the chances of your workers’ compensation claim being approved on the first application. In addition, a workers’ compensation lawyer may also be able to help you investigate other potential sources of financial recovery following a workplace accident. For example, if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident with a negligent driver, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the driver, even if you are also receiving workers’ compensation benefits. An attorney can help you manage your financial recovery from both workers’ comp and tort claims (since your employer may be entitled to compensation if you recover money in a personal injury lawsuit against a third party).
Contact a Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your Workplace Injury Case
A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the workers’ comp benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. represent clients in Pittsburgh and Western PA counties. Call (412) 564-4770 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 3634 California Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15212.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.