What If I Didn't Report My Work Injury Right Away?
Workplace injuries are oftentimes completely preventable but, at the same time, will eventually happen. Even the most responsible, highly-trained associate still has the ability for everyday human error and get into an accident that leaves them injured, possibly seriously. For this reason, there should be no shame or delay when it comes to reporting a workplace accident.
But embarrassment isn’t what keeps hundreds of workers each year from telling their boss or supervisor about their workplace injury right away. Instead, many employees are understandably afraid that they could get fired for their mistake. If not for that reason, then they fear they are going to become obsolete due to physical debilitations and get let go.
If these thoughts have ever crossed your mind, you are not alone, but it must be made clear: employees should never intentionally delay telling their employer about a workplace injury or accident.
Delays Hurt Your Claim’s Validity
The longer you take to inform your employer about your accident, the less of a chance you have at being granted full workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer needs to know about your accident so they can tell their insurance provider, who will then start to investigate your claim. If you wait a couple days to tell your boss you fell down a ladder, for example, the insurance company will become incredulous and could deny your claim outright.
Even if an insurance adjuster does believe your story about your fall a week ago, you have still harmed your case significantly by delaying. Any injury you sustain will get worse over time if it is not medically treated as soon as possible. In the days between the accident and the time you decided to tell your employer, the insurance company could argue that your injury worsened and that it is completely your fault for not seeking out help right away.
Reasonability & Legal Protections
You may have been too incapacitated to speak to your boss about your injury – it happens all the time. Does this mean you have delayed telling them inadvertently? No. Employers, management, and even other employees have the inherent responsibility to know of accidents in the workplace if those accidents happen at a time or location where it could be reasonably said that they should have known.
For example: You are in the backroom of a retail store when a heavy box drops off the racking and knocks you unconscious. A coworker finds you shortly after and takes you to the hospital before notifying your employer. Even though your boss was not told directly, there is plenty of reason for them to know an accident has taken place, such as the disappearance of two employees, the mess caused in the backroom, and possible CCTV footage. Even if you call them the next day to say where you went, they should report to their insurer that the accident happened the day prior, not the day you told them.
In regards to getting fired for getting injured, every employee is granted legal protection from undue backlash and workplace penalties. As an extension of the whistleblower act, you cannot be terminated solely for being injured on-the-job. In most situations, you cannot even be easily fired if your injury stops you from completing your normal duties; instead, your employer will first need to make an effort to retrain you for another position you can fill.
If you still have questions or concerns regarding the importance of reporting a workplace injury as soon as possible, feel free to pick up the phone and call (800) 980-6905 to connect with Alvandi Law Group, P.C. Our Orange County workers’ compensation lawyers have successfully recovered more than $100 million for our clients, so you can bet we have the answers or legal prowess you are looking for. Contact us today.