Areas of Law > Workers' Compensation

Recommendations Regarding Records

How many times have you said, "If I knew then what I know now, I'dů." In workers' compensation settings, this is often said by injured employees, in the midst of litigation of their claims, when they are without information that they need to confirm conversations, appointments or other pertinent matters. Lawyers representing these workers can be frustrated as well, particularly when this lack of information from their own clients is compounded by the fact that the employer does have the information at his disposal for sharing with its representatives. With that in mind, the following "hints" concerning record keeping in the event of a work injury are offered:

1. In virtually every case a Notice of Injury is filed. The employee is supposed to receive a copy of this Notice of Injury from the employer directly, when the form is filed with Harrisburg. Every employee should request a copy of this document immediately after it is completed. If possible, make a copy before turning it in to the employer, or have one made at the time the report is completed by the person completing it. The employee should review this Notice to determine whether the information on it is correct. If there are errors, particularly in the description of the injury or the complaints or body areas affected; the injured employee should notify the employer, in writing. In any event, the employee should make a note for his or her own record.

2. When the employee sees the company doctor, before providing any excuses, prescriptions or other information to the employer, he/she should make a copy for personal safe-keeping. Any time the employee sees a physician, the injured employee should request a copy of any forms that are being filled out for return to the insurance company or employer. This can sometimes head off the seemingly inevitable conflict between what the employee recalls the doctor saying and what the doctor actually reports to the insurance carrier.

3. All correspondence from the workers' compensation insurance carrier should be kept. Any documents which the injured employee is to return to the carrier should be copied before he/she returns them.

4. Any documents which the injured employee signs, particularly Bureau documents such as a Supplemental Agreement, should be copied and kept. Sometimes the insurance contacts the injured employee, requesting that he/she sign three or four copies of the same document and return them all to the carrier. The employee must always keep a copy of this document, in the event that in the future, there are questions about what was contained in the document. The Bureau purges records after a certain period, and there is no guarantee that this information will be on file if needed five years from now.

5. In a perfect world, and injured employee would keep a calendar or journal as of the date of injury, making notes as to dates information was provided to the employer, carrier, etc.; the dates of all doctor's appointments and tests, where these were performed; names and addresses of all medical care providers seen and the addresses of any witnesses who might be helpful.

6. In any case where an employee is injured but keeps working, even at lesser duty, pay stubs should be kept in the event of a wage loss. Ideally, every injured employee would have pay stubs from the year prior to his/her injury, so that the average weekly wage calculated by the employer in the event of time off and payment of compensation could be verified.

7. The employee should also keep copies of all medical bills incurred for Treatment for the work injury, and any information received from a private health insurance carrier concerning those charges in the event coverage for the bills is denied by the worker's compensation carrier.

This seems like a lot of paperwork. However, a notebook and folder can make a difference in a workers' compensation case. It is easier to throw out documents, if necessary, down the road than it is to "re-create" them. Employers and compensation carriers keep copies of all pertinent documents; an injured employee should be equally prepared.

Representing the working men and women of Pennsylvania since 1981