Workplace injuries are not limited to accidents requiring immediate medical
attention. Sometimes, a worker may suffer from a physical problem that
presents itself as a twinge or discomfort, and at first not recognize
it as work-related.
Nevertheless, it is important to follow general company policy when leaving
or missing work for any reason, and there are notification requirements
for employees before seeking
workers' compensation benefits for a workplace injury. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently
upheld a woman's right to benefits by saying "a meritorious claim
ought not, if possible, be defeated for technical reasons."
At issue in the case was whether or not the worker's employer received
sufficient notice of her claimed workplace injury. The female employee
inspected helmets for use by the U.S. Air Force. From 2003 to 2005 she
noticed swelling in her hands. In January, 2005 she told a supervisor
she had to leave work because of the pain. Following company policy, she
called in each day for the next week.
On February 2, 2005, she applied for short-term disability benefits, indicating
on a form at that time she did not believe the injury was work related.
A doctor later diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome and determined the injury
was related to her work. The woman immediately called her employer to
report her concerns. When no one answered the phone in the human resources
department, she left voicemail messages. A month later she was cleared
for work, with restrictions, but she was terminated by her employer as
they did not have a suitable job available.
The woman filed for workers' compensation benefits, which were approved.
Later, a Commonwealth Court Judge overturned the decision for lack of
proper notification to the employer. It was that decision that was reversed
by the Supreme Court. The woman is now fully entitled to the benefits
granted to her in Pennsylvania.
When an employee suffers an injury on the job, understandably the primary
concern is to recover one's health and feel better again. But workers
also worry about loss of income and even the potential loss of their job.
Many people are confused and intimidated by the laws governing workplace
injury. A local attorney knowledgeable in processing and appealing claims
may be of assistance in situations like this.
Source: Business Insurance, "Injured employee adequately notified employer, due workers comp: Court," Roberto Ceniceros, July 22, 2011