There is no doubt that employers HATE work injuries. So what is an injured worker to do…? Stay quiet about her injury for fear that her employer becomes angry at her and in retaliation reduces her hours, changes her duties to something undesirable, or makes the work environment hostile. OR should the injured worker report her injury immediately regardless of her employer’s response because if the injury turns out to be serious and requires medical treatment and lost time from work then she will need to have it covered under workers’ compensation?
Many injured workers wrongly take the wait-and-see approach. With this approach, they hope that the pain or symptoms are no more than a mere strain or sprain and will improve after a few days. If not then they will worry about reporting it later.
While this wait-and-see approach may seem like a logical compromise, it will hurt the injured worker if the injury turns out to be more serious than originally thought. Not reporting the accident promptly, allows the employer to question the worker’s credibility which could lead to denial of medical treatment, benefits for missed time from work, and loss of a monetary award based on the permanent injury. Moreover, your private health carrier may also deny coverage of medical treatment if claimed as a work injury as such treatment is the responsibility of the worker’s compensation insurance carrier. Now the worker is in a Catch 22 predicament.
What about if the employer has a policy requiring strict internal deadlines for reporting accidents, such as within 24 hours of the injury, which the worker deliberately did not follow? Now the employee can be reprimanded and her credibility and job security are jeopardized.
Ultimately, the injured worker needs to report a work injury to avoid this Catch 22 predicament. When reporting the injury, always do it in writing and get a copy of your written report. Every reputable employer has an Accident Report Form. If no form can be found, draft your own report. Details such as who, what, where, when, how, and why are easily remembered when describing the injury. Details such as dates and times are always crucial. Keep a photocopy of what you report to the employer. If the employer refuses to provide a copy, use your smartphone to take a picture of it. When it comes to a workers compensation injury, document, document, document! Keep a journal with dates, times, witnesses, specifics as to how the injury occurred, and medical appointments because your memory will fade over time. Again, smartphones have lots of apps to keep details documented for you, such as voice recorders, cameras, note-taking, calendars, etc.
Even if you are late in reporting an injury, you should still follow these recommendations. Remember, better late than never.
Wisconsin law protects injured workers. Mays Law Office and Attorney Lisa Pierobon Mays are here for you. Call for a free and immediate consultation. Everything we discuss is confidential. We proudly represent the Wisconsin injured worker. See testimonials from our clients.