In Burch v. WCAB, 2018 WL 1102078 (Pa. Cmwlth Ct., 3/1/18), employee didn’t notify her employer of a work injury because her employer gave bonuses to all employees if the company had no work injuries for the year. She didn’t want to be the one who caused her co-workers losing their bonuses, and stated at the time that she was, “taking one for the team.” Instead, she fabricated a story about injuring herself at home, which she told her medical providers and supervisors. Ultimately, the employee required a spinal fusion on her neck for which she needed ongoing treatment and was unable to return to work. At that point, she decided to make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which she testified she would have done from the outset if she had known how serious her injuries were. The workers’ compensation judge accepted employees story, but denied her right to workers’ compensation medical and income loss benefits because she failed to provide notice to her supervisor in a timely fashion. The Commonwealth Court affirmed the decision of the workers’ compensation judge stating:
“Claimant acted against her self-interest and in favor of what she believed to be the interest of her co-workers by not reporting the facts of her injury when it occurred. Employer may have influenced her decision with its bonus plan. However, there is no escaping the plain terms of [workers’ comp] Act, [which requires timely notice.]”
As a result, a question exists as to whether employee’s medical expenses would be covered by her health insurance carrier since it was determined that she was injured at work, and her workers’ compensation carrier would have paid the expenses, but for her choice not to notify them, and in fact to lie. Bad things happen when employees don’t notify their employer of their injury, regardless of the well-intentioned reason.