When you suffer a work-related injury a lot of things will go through your mind. First, you’ll likely feel physical pain. It might be a dull ache, or it might be a searing and stabbing pain that gradually subsides. At the time of the injury you might not feel the need to file an accident report with your employer. You think you can “tough it out” because you’re a good employee.
Weeks go by, but the pain doesn’t go away. Later you might start to think about how your injury will impact your ability to do your job, earn your salary, and subsequently care for your family. The fear of losing your job now stops you from filing an accident report. You’ve heard that other employees who were injured were eventually fired, and you don’t want to be one of them. You have bills to pay.
Months go by. The injury is now starting to get more serious and it impacts every part of your day, including your ability to do your job. Your supervisor begins to notice, but doesn’t say anything. Your co-workers try to help out, but they can’t hide your pain and your lack of production. Still, you decide that you won’t file an accident report and you hope things get better on their own. You have personal health insurance and you decide to use it to get medical care. You take a few days off to go to medical appointments, but to avoid problems with work you decide to hide the fact that you were hurt at work from your doctor. You tell your doctor that you were hurt at home.
A few weeks later you’re laid off because “business is down” or you were terminated for showing up one minute late even though you have never been late before. You’re now out of a job and you can’t afford medical insurance. You’re in chronic pain, the money is tight, and you know nobody will hire you once they know about your injury.
You finally realize now that your employer didn’t have your interests in mind; rather, their only concern is the cost of their workers’ compensation insurance premiums and their profit line. You decide that now is the time to report your injury as a work-related injury and file a Workers’ Compensation claim. You hope you can get medical care and receive temporary benefits to help pay your bills until you are healed and back on your feet with a new job. But the workers’ compensation insurance company denies your claim. You go to a lawyer for help, but no lawyer will take your claim. They all ask you why you didn’t notify your employer within 90 days of your injury, or why you told your doctors that your injury happened at home and not at work? You give an honest answer: you were a hard worker, you wanted to help your employer, you wanted to keep your job, and you thought the employer would take care of you. But every lawyer tells you that they can’t help you. So what now?
I’ve met with a number of injured workers that I couldn’t help. I could not help them because they did not give their employer any notice of their injury or they told their doctors that the injury did not occur at work. You may not be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits if you do not report your injury to your employer within 90 days of your accident.
I have to remind people they have one body. Take care of your health before your employer’s interests. You can always find a new job, but you may not be able to undo damage to your body because you ignored an injury. It’s hard to work if you aren’t in good health. If you’re hurt at work immediately notify your employer, complete an accident report, immediately seek medical treatment and contact us for help with your Workers’ Comp claim.