Workers Compensation: Always report and document your work-related accident
Written by: Darren Coleman
One of the fastest means of destroying your workers’ compensation claim is the failure to immediately report your accident to your supervisor. Injured workers often don’t want to make a big deal about their accidents because they figure they’ll get better quickly. However, it pays to be overly cautious. This is particularly true if there were no witnesses to the accident. Don’t make the mistake of believing that you are a good employee by not reporting your accident.
When you delay reporting your work-related accident until after the weekend or even later, you give your employer a ready-made excuse to deny your claim. We’ve often seen insurance companies deny claims on the basis that they were not reported within 24 or 48 hours, even though the law says you actually have 30 days to report your work-related accident. We’ve had too many injured workers tell us that their employer went so far as to tell them that they could not bring a claim because they didn’t report the injury immediately. Of course, that is absolutely false, but it gives you an idea of how employers can react to workers’ compensation claims.
This also brings up a very good point: Your employer is not a lawyer. Chances are, your employer, even with the best intentions, will not give you correct information when it comes to your workers’ compensation claim.
You must also report your accident to the proper people. Mentioning it to a co-worker is never enough. As soon as you can, you must find your supervisor and tell him or her about your accident. Insist that your supervisor makes a written report of the accident and that you are given a copy of the accident report. In the State of Florida the form is called a First Report of Injury.
Take your time when filling out the accident report. Be accurate and provide as much detail as you can. Make sure to document all of your work-related injuries at the outset. Even if you don’t think your injuries are that serious you must still report them as they may become more problematic as time goes by and failing to report them provides the employer with a convenient excuse for denying your claim later on.
If there are any witnesses to your work-related accident, be sure to get those witnesses names and telephone numbers. We recommend that you ask them to do you a favor and just hand write a quick paragraph about what they saw. Tell them you’re being overly cautious and that you’re sure that nothing will ever come of the injury. Most of the time if you ask right away, your co-workers won’t have a problem writing a quick note. Later on, when the witnesses feel pressured by the employer to not cooperate with you, it will be much more difficult for the witnesses to deny having seen your accident.
Also, always report your work-related accident to your doctor at your first visit. When you are injured on-the-job we strongly suggest that you request that your employer send you to a doctor. However, if your employer refuses to provide medical treatment and you must seek medical attention on your own it is imperative that you advise your doctor that you were injured on the job so that the doctor can document his records. Failing to report a clear and accurate work-related accident history to your physician will often lead to extensive delays in obtaining the medical treatment which you deserve.
We have had numerous claims where the employer has requested that the employee not advise the doctor that they were injured at work or even to not tell the truth and inform the doctor that the injured worker was injured at home. Don’t allow your employer to play that game with you because when the injury turns out to be more severe than you originally expected and the employer denies that you got injured on-the-job you will have no documentation of a work-related injury. Moreover, our experience has shown us that if a work-related injury is not documented at the initial doctor’s visit the Judge of Compensation Claims will likely deny all medical care.
If you have questions on how to report your worker’s compensation claim or if your claim has been denied for failure to timely report or document your accident you should contact an attorney immediately to determine your rights. Call us anytime 1-800-JUSTICE.