120-Day Notice of Injury Rule in Worker’s Comp Cases

After family and friends, a person’s work is usually the most important thing in his or her life. People work to make a living and maintain a certain lifestyle. Most employees work at the job site several days each week, several hours each day. As such, the workplace should be somewhere employees feel safe. Unfortunately, workplaces are not always safe and employees are frequently injured on the job.

If an employee is injured on the job, the employee deserves compensation. The employee was working for the benefit of the employer, and because the employer has a duty to ensure a safe environment for its employees, the employer should be held liable.

However, there are rules that the injured employee must follow. In Hershgordon v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Pep Boys), A.2d (Pa.Cmwlth., No. 2031 C.D.2010, filed February 8, 2011), the court ruled that reporting an injury to an employer more than two years after the injury occurred is insufficient. The worker’s compensation claim was denied because the employee failed to report the claim within the 120 day required notice period.

Section 311 of the Workers’ Compensation Act states plainly that no compensation will be awarded if the employee fails to report an injury within 120 days of the injury’s occurrence.

It is important to report the injury to the appropriate person at the workplace. Reporting an incident to a co-worker is likely insufficient to put the employer on notice of a workplace injury. Further, if the employer is notified that the employee has been injured and requests the employee to see a doctor of the employer’s choice, it is imperative that the employee mentions the work related injury. This way there will be a trail of evidence and the doctor can testify to the employee notifying the company of the injury. The doctor can also evaluate the injury and be useful in determining whether the employee’s symptoms are caused by the injury that occurred on the job, as opposed to some preexisting condition, which the employer would not be liable for. The employee should also make sure to report the injury to any physicians the employee visits on his or her own will.

The 120-day reporting rule is not flexible. It is a strict rule that judges will adhere to, especially if there is no trail indicating that anyone in the company knew that the employee had a work related injury. Employees should remember not to wait until they stop working at the job. Employees need to report the injury within the legal timeframe.