Whether you work in an office, warehouse, manufacturer, or other industry, you should be aware that on-the-job injuries can happen. No matter where you are employed, it is important that you know your rights and responsibilities in case of an injury at work. We often have clients contact us with questions about the timing of the injury and when it was reported, such as this one:
“My employer says I didn’t tell them about my injury in time, so I can’t get workers’ compensation. Is that true?”
Report a Work Injury ASAP
You should report your injury to your employer AS SOON AS IT OCCURS. Even if you aren’t sure it is a serious injury, you should report it and make sure someone documents it. However, the law actually allows you 90 days to report the injury to your employer. Therefore, even if your employer tells you that you only had 24 or 48 hours to report it so you don’t have a claim, that is not true. As long as you report it within 90 days of the event, you should push the employer to make a report and turn it into their insurance company. While the 90-day time limit for reporting work injuries may be extended for some very narrow reasons, it is best to document the event as soon as you can with your employer.
Serious acute injuries like a smashed finger or a fall are likely to be reported immediately because medical treatment will be required. As soon as you are able, be sure to communicate with your employer to ensure any serious injury has been documented.
Often we think we just pulled a muscle and it will go away with time. Sometimes, employees don’t want to report the injury for fear of repercussions from the employer or co-employees for making a claim. Or you may realize that the tweak you felt in your back while lifting boxes on Thursday didn’t cause you pain until the weekend.
There are injuries that are due to repetitive work, such as lifting all day every day, standing all day, or using certain tools on a repetitive basis. This may cause the injury to gradually come on and slowly worsens. You should report those injuries and request treatment as soon as you need medical care or if it causes you to miss work.
Whatever the situation, you need to keep the 90-day deadline in mind and report your injury as soon as possible. It may also help you write it down and to tell a friend about the accident or event.
Remember to log the date and topic of conversations with your employer. Writing about those conversations will make it much easier to recall details should legal action be required.
When a work injury occurs, you may be entitled to reimbursements for medical care, mileage, healing period benefits, and other temporary or permanent disability benefits. So, when it comes to reporting a work injury, sooner is better. Read more about work comp benefits.
Document Medical Treatment, Mileage, Etc.
It will also help your claim if you document your medical mileage and any treatment you receive related to that injury. We recommend getting a notebook where you can track visits to the doctor, physical therapist, or other medical providers and track roundtrip mileage to those appointments as well.
If your work injury is serious, it may also benefit you mentally and emotionally to keep track of your pain levels and how and why they improve or worsen. Depression is a common side effect of serious work accidents and injuries, and you may be entitled to benefits if you are depressed because you are unable to work.
Take Pictures of Your Injury
Taking pictures of an injury may sound extreme, but they can be helpful for workers’ compensation claims. If an injury is visible, such as one causing bruising or a wound, take photos and start a file. You can then document the healing process and have the photos just in case.
In order to get work comp benefits, report a work injury as soon as you can— within 90 days—and document everything related to the injury. That includes taking and keeping good notes about the event date, details, and all treatment and discussions related to the on-the-job accident.
Know your workers’ compensation rights. Contact Wertz Law Firm for representation.