How Do I Report a Work Injury?
Some work injuries are obvious. Whether it’s a fall witnessed by a large group of co-workers or a broken ankle that requires an ambulance to take you to the hospital, reporting the injury isn’t something you need to worry about; the company already knows it happened. However, there are other types of injuries that aren’t as obvious. This includes injuries that you thought would get better as well as injuries that happen without any witnesses. In these situations, not only do you have to worry about getting to see a doctor. You also have to worry about making sure your employer knows it happened.I Didn’t Think It Was a Big Deal
There are many reasons why employees do not immediately tell their employers about injuries. One reason used most often is that the injury may seem too minor. “I was helping a customer with a bag of cement. I felt some back pain but thought it would go away.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the cast. We have seen a pulled shoulder while unloading a truck start as a minor twinge and end up as a labral tear or rotator cuff damage requiring surgery. Minor spinal twinges may blossom into disc herniations.
This is why you should always report even minor injuries to someone in a supervisory capacity immediately. Even if a few days or a few weeks have gone by, it’s still important to report the injury. This can be done to your supervisor, the company owner, or someone in Human Resources.I Didn’t Want My Employer to Get Mad. I Didn’t Want to Get Fired
Reporting an injury can be difficult. You don’t want to create trouble. However, there are protections for those who report injuries. Employers are statutorily barred from retaliating against an employee for filing a workers compensation claim. In reality, theoretical remedies do not necessarily translate into strict legal compliance.
If you are injured and know you will at least need some medical attention, you urgently need the claim reported and you need the name of the workers compensation insurance company. Because the doctor or hospital will identify the injury as work related, it will need the proper insurer and claim number, and you and your employer have no choice but to make the information available. This may be an easier rationale to make directly to your boss.Fairness Requires Prompt Reporting
Serious injuries are self-reporting, often requiring OSHA notification. A large percentage of worksite accidents, however, are unwitnessed. The injury may appear minor, so the worker doesn’t think to report it.. If an accident is witnessed by a coworker, the co-worker may be unwilling to go against management and say it never happened.
No matter the severity of the injury, the employer and its insurance company deserve to know and are entitled to know about it right away. More importantly, the sooner you report your injury, the better it is for your case. It also helps the employer and its insurer to prevent recurrences, to change processes to improve safety, to get help to the employee, and to allow better potential for fair treatment of all involved parties. It gives employers and their insurance companies an opportunity to look into potential for third-party liability.What If I Need Help to Report?
If you have been hurt at work, a good attorney will assure prompt reporting, but also will know the steps to alleviate the effects of late notice. Is there available video? Can statements be gathered from witnesses before their memories dissipate? Will medical records reflect an accurate history and source for the injury? At Marcotte Law Firm, our Workers Compensation Lawyers are familiar with all of these issues and all defense tactics that can flow from defects in accident reporting. We deal with the process while you deal with healing.