Court Finds Voicemail Adequate Notification of Work-Related Injury

July 22, 2011 ( – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that an injured worker’s voicemail and other communications showed that she adequately notified her employer of her work-related injury, entitling her to workers compensation benefits.

Business Insurance reports that after a workers compensation judge found Anne Marie Morack suffered a work-related injury and ruled that her complaints of pain, her short-term disability claim and her voice message sufficiently notified her employer of her injury, a Commonwealth Court judge overturned the decision, saying Morack failed to sufficiently describe her injuries to her employer.   

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s order and ruled that the employer was aware that Morack suffered a work-related problem.  

The high court said that although Morack’s notice to the employer was not “letter perfect,” Pennsylvania’s workers comp law directs that “a meritorious claim ought not, if possible, be defeated for technical reasons,” according to Business Insurance.  

The case of Gentex Corp. and Gallagher Bassett Services vs. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board involves Morack, who had inspected helmets Gentex made for the U.S. Air Force since 1960, and suffered swelling in her hands from 2003 to 2005, Business Insurance said. In January 2005, she told a supervisor she had to leave work because of pain.   

Pursuant to Gentex’s policy, Morack telephoned Gentex for the next five days to update her condition. In February 2005, she applied for short-term disability benefits and indicated on a form that she did not believe her injury was work related.   

However, a rheumatologist later diagnosed her with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome and other problems and concluded that the injuries were work related. Morack testified that after the diagnosis, she immediately called Gentex’s human resources department and left voicemails when she could not reach anyone.   

In March 2005, the doctor released Morack for work with restrictions, but Gentex did not have a position meeting her restrictions and she was terminated.