What should you do if you are injured at work? Many companies have specific programs aimed at avoiding work related injuries. Safe work practices and efforts to avoid accident are important for employers and employees alike. They create a safe working environment while saving money for the employer. However, once an accident happens, you are not doing yourself or your employer any favors by failing to report it.
If you suffer an injury while working, one of the most important things you can do is to report it. This might seem fairly obvious. However, there are many times a person is injured without requiring immediate medical attention, so it might seem like a good idea to take a wait and see approach and not mention the incident. When an accident is not reported, an employer can deny you medical treatment and benefits for missed time from work. Reporting an accident properly will prevent many potential problems.
Failing to report an accident can lead to several problems. If you do not report an accident on time, your employer can deny you medical treatment and out of work benefits. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will also question why your employer did not report the accident on time. Your private health insurance carrier will not pay for treatment for work related injuries.
In New Jersey, the three specific Workers’ Compensation benefits you are entitled to if you are injured at work are medical treatment provided by your employer, temporary disability benefits and a monetary award based on the degree of permanent injury.
If you do not report an injury when it happens, your employer can deny the accident occurred or may claim it happened outside of work. Many employers also impose strict internal deadlines for reporting accidents, for instance, within 24 hours of an incident. If you fail to report the incident on time, you can receive a formal reprimand and/or suspension without pay. You can actually find yourself in the position of receiving a formal reprimand for not reporting an accident that your employer denies happened.
If you injure your back lifting a heavy box or twist your knee climbing off a piece of machinery, you may not require immediate medical treatment. It might also seem like a good idea not to mention this to your supervisor unless it reaches the point that you’ll need to see a doctor. Then, if you wake up the next morning with severe pain or stiffness at the site of the injury your or your back starts to act up weeks later, your employer can deny medical treatment because you did not report the injury when it first happened.
What should you do? Report the accident to your employer, even if you think you are not seriously hurt. By reporting the accident, you protect yourself against the employer who might claim that you were injured away from the workplace. If possible, report the accident in writing or in the presence of a reliable witness. If you are a union member, you should also report the accident to your union representative in addition to your employer. Using an accident report form provided by your employer or union is best.
It is also important to know your co-workers. In the event of an injury, your co-workers are your best witnesses as to the happening of an accident as well as the cause. They may also be in a position to verify the happening of the accident if your account of what happened to you is challenged.
Even if you are reporting an accident late, you should still follow the above recommendations.
In New Jersey, injured workers are allowed up to 90 days in most situations to report an accident, however, employers can impose much shorter internal deadlines. You may eventually be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits, but if an accident is not properly reported, you will face more hurdles along the way.
Injured on the Job? Contact a Worker Injury Lawyer Today
If you are injured at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. For 75 years, Stark & Stark has represented working families with sound legal advice and guidance when they need a lawyer most. We have a team of Workers’ Compensation attorneys who work tirelessly to protect the rights of injured workers. We provide free consultations to inform you of your rights and obligations under the law and strongly recommend that you call us today if you have been hurt at work.