Always, always report any injury you sustain on the job—no matter how minor! A lot of people think, “Let me see if it will get better.” This is a bad idea. I had a client get scratched on the job, and he thought nothing of it. Weeks later, he was in the hospital with an uncontrollable infection that required amputation of the affected body part!
By law, you have 30 days to report a work-related injury to your employer from the date that you realized you sustained the injury, so the sooner you report your injury the better. If you wait too long, one of the first issues to arise will be, “What took you so long to report it?” If you fail to report your injury to your employer within 30 days of knowing about it, your worker’s comp claim will be barred. At that point, there is nothing an attorney can do to help you.
How do you go about reporting your injury? You must report it to someone who is higher up than you—not a co-worker at your same level. It must be a foreman, boss, supervisor, or HR representative. Keep proof of when, and to whom, you report the injury. If you make your report verbally, you risk having the employer come back later and say, “Nope, you never told me about it.” Then, without proof, it becomes a spitting contest as to who said what to whom.
Here are some ways to report your workplace injury, no matter how minor:
- Notify your employer in writing, in a way that provides you with proof of notification, such as fax, email, or any kind of mail service with delivery confirmation.
- Notify your employer in person, but make sure other people are present to “witness” it.
- If your injury requires a doctor’s visit, bring the doctor’s note to your employer, using one of the above methods to ensure you have proof of delivery and notification.
When you provide notice of your injury, you must clearly indicate that it was sustained on the job. It’s not sufficient to state, “My back hurt this morning, so I am going to see the doctor,” or call in sick the next day. Your notice must specifically state what happened, and when, where, and how it happened. Never assume your employer will or should know what you mean. You must spell everything out.
These are just a few things to follow to be sure you effectively notify your employer of any workplace injury. If you have questions, keep us in mind, as we are always here to help!