Help! I was Injured on the Job. What Should I Do?
It is a day like no other. Everything seems to be going wrong. Your coffee is too weak, and your bagel doesn’t have enough cream cheese. To make matters even worse, your gas tank is completely empty so a stop at the gas station is inevitable. What else could possibly go wrong?
Funny you should ask…
You finally arrive at work, clock in, grab your coffee, and are seated at your desk just in time to start your day. You seem to finally be back on track and are certainly hoping things start to go better. While going about your daily routine, you scoot your desk chair back to stand up and, instead, fall directly onto the floor. Everyone in the office has heard you bounce and comes running to make sure you are okay. Not only are you quite embarrassed, but you immediately start to feel discomfort in your neck and tailbone. Believe me when I say, “It happens to the best of us.” In fact, in 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry reported more than 13,600 workers’ compensation claims filed in a professional or business setting alone. And that same year, a whopping number of 172,756 workers’ compensation claims were filed across all industries.
Okay. Now what? Who will pay your medical bills? What if you can’t work?
Below is a brief summary of what workers’ compensation is and the steps you should take following a work injury or work-related illness.
What is workers’ compensation?
In the unfortunate event that you are injured on the job, or you suffer a work-related illness or injury, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act may pay for your medical expenses and lost wages. In extreme circumstances, workers’ compensation may even pay for death benefits. These benefits are usually paid through your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier, but under certain circumstances, they may be covered under the State Workers’ Compensation Fund (a state-run workers’ compensation insurance carrier).
Steps to take following a work injury or work-related illness:
Report your injury
Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee who is hurt on the job is required to give notice to their employer, boss, supervisor, or Human Resources Department. The report should be done immediately but must be given no later than 120 days from the date of the injury or loss. After 120 days, the employee will be forever barred from benefits under the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. The report may be made verbally or in writing by completing an incident report, should include details such as a brief description of your injury, as well as what caused the injury. It is your employer’s responsibility to report your injury to their workers’ compensation carrier immediately upon notification of the injury.
Seek medical attention
If your injury requires emergency medical attention, then you may seek treatment from any hospital, urgent care, or medical provider of your choice. However, subsequent treatment shall be obtained from a designated medical provider for a period of 90 days after the initial treatment. Your employer should have a list of at least six designated medical providers, or “panel doctors”. For the first 90 days from the date of your first treatment, you will be required to seek treatment from one of the doctors on that list. If you choose to seek medical treatment within the first 90 days from a medical provider outside your compensation carriers’ network, then your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier may refuse payment of your medical bills. Also, during the first 90 days of treatment, you have the right to change providers and option to choose a different panel doctor. Once the 90-day period of time has expired, you may seek treatment from any medical provider you choose, regardless of whether or not they are a designated panel doctor. At that point, you are also responsible to notify your employer of any treatment from a non-designated doctor within five days from the date of your first visit.
If you’ve been injured at work or sustained a work-related illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Please contact our certified workers’ compensation department at Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo at (610) 625-2100. Consultations are always free, and your peace of mind may be only a phone call away.