Reporting Work-Related Injuries After The Fact: Is It Too Late To File A Report And Make A Worker's Comp Claim?

Worker's comp is designed to cover lost time and medical bills when you get injured at work. This insurance is paid for by your employer to safeguard his business and to make sure you get the financial assistance you deserve if you are injured during the course of your workday. It will pay for your medical expenses and compensate you for lost work. However, in order to qualify for worker's comp benefits, you need to follow some rules. One of the most important rules is that you must report the injury as soon as possible to establish a work injury.  But what happens if you don't report your injury soon enough?

Reporting worked related injuries

Some injuries are obvious and require immediate medical attention. Under these circumstances, your employer knows about the injury when it happens and can start the ball rolling by making a first report. This documents the injury and verifies that it is work-related. Other times, an injury can occur without your knowledge. For example, you can injure your back while moving equipment or cause hidden injuries when you slip and fall. Because you don't experience immediate pain and there is no obvious injury, it is easy to think that you don't need to file an injury report. However, you may discover that you can't get out of bed in the morning or may even develop symptoms related to the injury days or weeks after the event. While reporting all mishaps right away is the safest way to establish your claim, sometimes this just doesn't happen. 

What is the timeline for reporting a work-related injury?

Each state sets its own timeline for reporting an injury. According to NOLO, most states allow anywhere from 30 to 90 days to file a worker's comp claim after an injury, but that doesn't mean you should put off notifying your employer of a possible injury before then. Even if you aren't sure you will need to file a worker's comp claim, notify your employer of any suspected injuries as soon as possible. If you suddenly experience symptoms that you can tie to work-related tasks, let your employer know as soon as the symptoms occur. If you injury causes you to miss work, even if it is only a day or two, don't take sick time and assume the injury will get better. There is no shame in filing a legitimate worker's comp claim, and it will protect you if you develop more symptoms or your injury gets worse with time. 

How can you verify a work-related injury after the fact?

If you delayed reporting an injury to your employer and later experience symptoms, you may need to verify the injury with witnesses. If you slipped and fell in the parking lot or twisted your back loading goods in the truck, think back to who was present during that time. Co-workers, customers, or your employer may be able to verify the incident with their eye-witness testimony. If you mentioned the injury to a co-worker or other employee at the time, they may be able to verify your claim, even if they did not witness the actual incident. Medical reports by a professional may also help you establish the cause and time of your injury.

What about occupational diseases?

An occupational disease is defined as a disease that occurs due to exposures to risk factors associated with work-related tasks, explains the World Health Organization. That means that if your job exposes you to certain risks or conditions that cause your disease, you may be entitled to Worker's Compensation Benefits to cover your medical expenses or lost time from work. Because these diseases (such as lung cancer after asbestos exposure) typically result from repeated exposure, reporting the injury has more lenient timelines. According to NOLO, the time when you were notified by your doctor that your disease is probably work-related, or the date of your last exposure to the conditions, is generally considered the date of the injury for worker's comp purposes.

If you are injured on the job, report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. In the event that you experience symptoms related to an incident that you did not report because you were not aware of its potential for injury, report it as soon as you experience symptoms. For more information, contact a law firm like Walz Law Office.