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A work injury can disrupt a person's entire life and cause physical pain as well as emotional aggravation from dealing with medical bills and insurance bureaucracy. Filing and getting a workers' compensation claim recognized can help alleviate these issues. However, unless an employee acts within the specified time lines, he or she may lose the opportunity to receive benefits at all.
Time Limits for Initial Filing an Initial Workers' Compensation Claim
In Pennsylvania, an injured worker should report a work injury within 21 days after its occurrence to his or her employer. Without this notice, the employer and the employer's insurer are under no obligation to pay workers' compensation benefits. However, failure to give notice within 21 days does not preclude a worker from pursuing a legal claim; it only delays possible payment.
Nevertheless, an employee must provide notice to the employer within 120 days after the injury or he or she will lose the right to receive any kind of benefits. If notice is given in this time frame and the workers' compensation insurer denies liability for the injury, the employee then has three years from the date of injury to file a claim petition for benefits.
One exception to the 120-day rule is occupational diseases such as cancer or chemical exposure and poisoning. In order to qualify for compensation in these situations, the employee must become injured or disabled within 300 weeks of the date of last employment in the job that caused the occupational illness. Moreover, the injured worker must file a claim for benefits within three years of the date of injury or disability. Failure to act within three years will result in a loss of eligibility for workers' compensation benefits.
Time Limits for Reinstating Workers' Compensation Benefits
Additionally, there are time limits for reinstating workers' compensation benefits after the insurer suspends or terminates benefits. For suspended benefits, an employee with a partial disability must file a claim to reinstate benefits within 500 weeks of the date on the last benefit check. For terminated benefits, the employee must file a claim to reinstate benefits within three years of the date on the last benefit check.
When seeking workers' compensation benefits, it is vital to act within the prescribed time limits. If you have suffered an injury while at work, seek immediate consultation with an attorney to discuss your eligibility for workers' compensation benefits. If you wait, you risk losing your right to compensation.