If you recently suffered an injury on the job or contracted a work-related illness, it is essential to act quickly. Pennsylvania has strict time windows when your claim is eligible for consideration, and missing these can result in disqualification.
Understanding Pennsylvania law when it comes to time frames for workers’ compensation will help you plan your actions appropriately. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry outline the essential time frames for claims.
The best time to act after an injury is right away. You will want to inform your employer immediately if you suffer an injury on the job. Even if you do not foresee missing work, it is advisable to notify your employer in case the injury worsens over time.
If you can, give notice in writing and retain a dated copy for your records. In this notice, be sure to include a declaration that your injury was related to your work.
Informing your employer within 21 days will allow you to receive compensation from the day of injury. If you wait until after this window, any wage compensation will begin with the notification date instead of the injury date.
In the first 90 days after an injury or onset of an illness for which you plan to claim workers’ compensation, you will need to use a designated medical provider. Ask for a list of approved providers from your employer. Using another doctor during this window could affect the validity of your claim.
One hundred twenty days
For work-related injuries, unreported injuries become invalid after 120 days. In almost all cases, Pennsylvania law entirely bars bringing a claim after this time frame. Note that this does not apply to work-related illnesses, which have their own time limits.
Three hundred weeks
For occupational diseases or work-related illnesses, you must report the onset within 300 weeks of your last date of work under the employer in question. In other words, if you stop working a job with frequent exposure to hazardous chemicals and later discover that you have contracted cancer related to your work, you have 300 weeks to inform your past employer.
After reporting the contraction of a disease to your employer or previous employer, you have three years during which to file a claim. This time frame begins on the date you discovered the illness or the date you discovered that it was related to your work, if they are not the same date.
These time limits primarily apply to your first notice and request for compensation. In the case that you need to bring an appeal or dispute, you will have additional time. If you believe you have missed your window, seek the advice of an expert to see what recourse you may have or whether exceptions apply in your situation.