NOTICE OF A PENNSYLVANIA WORK INJURY AND THE DISCOVERY RULE
In a recent unreported Commonwealth Court Case, Waste Management v. WCAB (Fessler), the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court provided an analysis as to whether or not notice was adequately provided for a Pennsylvania work injury. Under Section 311 of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee is required to provide notice to his employer within 120 days of a work injury. In that same section, there is also a “discovery rule” which stops the calculation of the 120 days for purposes of providing adequate notice. See also Sell v. Worker’s Compensation Appeal Board (LNP Engineering) 771 A.2d 1246 (Pa. 2001).
The Court went on to cite the Sell case and noted that the 120-day notice period does not begin to run “in cases in which the nature of the injury or its causal connection to work is not known, until an employee knows or by the exercise of reasonable diligence, has reason to know of the injury and the possible relationship to employment.” Id. at 1251. Further, the Sell case stands for the proposition that the claimant’s knowledge “calls for more than an employee’s suspicion, intuition or belief; by its terms, the statute’s notice is triggered only by the employee’s knowledge that he or she is injured and that his or her injury is probably related to his job.” Therefore, a later medical opinion that a prior event caused an injured workers’ injury may be enough to toll the statute of limitations.
It is crucial that you seek experienced Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Attorneys versed in notice of Pennsylvania work injury issues to guide you through this complicated area of law. Call our office for a free consultation at 717-238-1657.