Reporting a Work Injury
In some cases, it is obvious that you have suffered a work related injury. Think car accident while driving for work, or a fall off a loading dock. In other cases, it is not obvious, because the injury happened gradually or even if suddenly, no one was there to witness it. In these cases, it is up to you give your employer and its workers’ compensation insurer the honest and complete information to maximize your chances that they will pay your claim. Employers and insurance companies are trained to be suspicious when an employee reports a work injury that is not obvious. They will likely ask whether you have had prior injuries to that same body part or prior workers’ compensation claims. Prior injuries or medical conditions affecting the same part of the body do not bar workers’ compensation claims if the work injury significantly aggravates it. They will likely ask what happened, when, where, what you were doing, whether there were any witnesses, who you reported it to, and when. Be honest and consistent in your description of the circumstances surrounding your injury. They are not likely to ask you if it happened at work. You have to say clearly that it happened at work and that you are making a claim for workers’ compensation lost time and/or medical benefits. Report a gradual injury as soon as you notice pain connected with your work duties, even before you seek medical treatment if possible. You may be tempted to “wait and see” if the pain goes away on its own but be aware that the longer you wait the more trouble you may have proving your claim later. One of the recent changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act was shortening the notice period from 90 to 30 days which shows there is skepticism about injuries that are not reported promptly.