To start the workers’ compensation process, you need to report your injury or illness to your employer within 120 days of the incident. Then, your employer will report the incident to their insurance carrier and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Workers’ compensation by filing a First Report of Injury. This report is only required if you miss at least one day of work. You then have a statute of limitations to file a contested claim that will expire after three years from the day of the injury.
Employers are required to make this report, but there are situations where they will delay reporting or may not report at all. This type of fact scenario is uncommon, but it can happen. When it does, an injured worker may not get medical treatment or other benefits as soon as they should.
Thankfully, you can take action if your employer refuses to report your injury.
Why Employers Might Not Report a Workplace Injury
These are some reasons an employer may report your work injury:
- Your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
- Your employer is trying to avoid an increase in insurance rates.
- The employer does not think that your injury is severe enough to report or is not work-related.
- Your employer is simply ignoring your legal rights as an injured worker.
While these are common workers’ comp defenses, your employer is required by Pennsylvania law to report your work injury soon after you tell them about the incident. In most cases, the injury report should be filed within seven to ten days of the work injury.
Your employer’s insurance company then has 21 days to investigate your claim and decide whether or not they will pay workers’ compensation benefits. However, that investigation is not grounds to fail to report your injury to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Instead, the report should be filed and then altered if the insurance company decides that you should not receive benefits for any reason.
Keep in mind that your employer does not have the option to decline to report your injury. If you are absent for at least one day because of a work injury, your employer is legally required to report it. By not reporting it in a timely manner, your employer is causing a delay in payment of your benefits.
Your employer must report the injury even if he or she denies that it happened at all or happened the way that you said it did. If there is any allegation that a work injury occurred that resulted in an employee missing even one shift, then it should be reported.
Do not make the mistake of taking benefits directly from your employer so they can avoid reporting the accident or creating a formal accident report. You may be waiving your legal rights under PA workers’ compensation law or other potential legal rights by taking this type of action.
Your Rights as an Injured Worker
Under Pennsylvania workers’ comp law, these are your rights:
- You have the right to receive benefits, including wage loss and medical benefits.
- You have the right to access medical treatment at your employer’s expense for work-related injuries.
- You also have the right to a hearing if an employer denies you any benefit that you are entitled to receive.
As an employee, you have the right to work in a safe environment. If you suffer a work injury, then you can hold your employer responsible for the damages that the job or unsafe work environment have caused.
Injured workers have rights in Pennsylvania that can be undermined by employers who do not report injuries in a timely manner. Keep in mind that you first need to tell your employer that you believe you were hurt at work to trigger these rights.
If your employer does not report the accident or injury, then it is a violation of your rights as a worker. This is true whether or not your employer has workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
A delay in reporting can also mean that you cannot get the medical treatment that you need to address your work injury. If waiting for an employer to report your injury puts you or your health at risk, then you should not wait to get medical attention, especially if it is an emergency situation.
What Claimants Can Do Next
If your employer denies you benefits, and it appears that they are not reporting the injury as they should, you can take a few steps to assert your legal rights.
- Keep notes about who you told about your work injury and how they were told.
- Keep copies of any written accident reports that you created. If you have not provided a written statement, then you should do so.
- Keep notes about the time and date of the accident, and, if you are already getting medical treatment, let your doctor know that you believe that the injury is work-related.
If the employer specifically denied your request to create an accident report, note who you spoke with and that they told you an accident report was not necessary. If possible, talk to their manager or supervisor and let them know that you would like to report your injury.
In some situations, talking to a supervisor may not help. In those cases, you likely need to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney to help you assert your rights.
Injured employees can start a contested petition even if your employer does not report your claim. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will make your employer file an Employer Report of Industrial Injury once you start your petition. If they still fail to file the injury report, then they may face fines or other negative consequences.
Talk to a Workers Compensation Attorney Today
If your employer is trying to undermine your rights as an injured worker in Pennsylvania, the team at Krasno, Krasno, & Onwudinjo can help you fight back. Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation to get legal advice on your workers’ compensation claim, or you can explore additional resources and information on our website.