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Reporting a Work Injury

As the claimant, you are responsible for notifying your employer that you have suffered a work injury and are asserting a claim for benefits, such as medical treatment and payment of lost time. Failure to provide timely notice is an affirmative defense that your employer and its insurance company must prove, but if they prove it, bars you from making a claim, no matter how bad your injury turns out to be.

In 2013, in response to pressure from employers and insurance companies, the Maine Legislature shortened the time period for providing notice of a work injury from 90 days to 30 days. The 30 days begins to run from the date the injury "manifests," in other words, when you knew or should have known, based on the information available to you at the time, that work was causing or contributing to your symptoms. Courts have interpreted this to mean the date your symptoms progress to the point where you need medical treatment or can no longer work.

When reporting a work injury, be sure to document the conversation in some form. Be sure to explain how the injury is work related. Do not assume that safety and human resource personnel will make that connection. Be specific as to when and how the injury occurred, or with gradual injuries, when symptoms began and the type of motion and equipment involved.

Many employers promote the culture of workplace safety so relentlessly that employees are afraid to report work injuries for fear of retaliation. Know that it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you for asserting your rights under the Workers' Compensation Act and monetary remedies are available.