The short answer to this question is no, the average American worker is not legally obligated to file a report with their employer, or a workers’ compensation claim with the relevant insurer, if they’ve been injured at work. However, reporting an injury to your employer is one of the most important steps you’ll need to take in order to have a successful workers’ compensation claim.
It’s understandable if you’re hesitant to file a report at work after developing a work-related illness or injury. Some employees are fearful that making a claim could hurt their standing at their company, or that the claims process will require too much time and money to be worth it. It’s important to know, however, that filing a claim could be very important after you’ve suffered a work-related injury or illness.
Employees Are Protected After a Work Injury
If you end up choosing to file a workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to have made an initial injury report with your employer. Failing to make this initial report could jeopardize the amount of compensation you are entitled to.
The exact laws that protect employees may vary from state to state, but in general, federal U.S. legislation dictates that employers must provide a safe workplace for employees. The majority of employers are also required to have workers’ compensation policies for employees who are hurt on the job. Federal legislation also states that employers may not retaliate against an employee who files a workers’ compensation claim. It’s possible for the employer to contest the validity of a claim, but it’s unlawful for an employer to retaliate against the employee simply because he or she has been injured at work.
What’s Really At Stake?
Workers’ compensation laws are different in every state but there are a few characteristics of workers’ comp claims that are consistent across the board. If you’re considering filing a workers’ compensation claim, it may help to find as much information about the laws in your own state before making the decision.
- Small injuries could potentially turn into major injuries if left untreated. Employers are typically required to save documentation of employee injury reports. Even if your injury is minor, it’s wise to report your injury to your employer.
- Repetitive stress injuries can be just as valid as accident-related injuries. This is something that many workers do not realize. A medical condition related to job duties that develops over a period of time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or upper back pain, may qualify for workers’ compensation payments.
- Claims that are initially denied may be appealed. If you’re not sure about the strength of your case, keep in mind that you may be able to repeal the claim if it is denied.
Choosing whether or not to report a work-related injury is essentially a personal decision, but it may be a very wise decision if you’ve been injured at work. Weighing the risks and benefits is up to you, but you don’t have to make the decision alone. An experienced Palm Beach County workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand the unique factors at play in your case and help you determine if filing for workers’ compensation is in your best interest.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from the Law Offices of Franks, Koenig & Neuwelt for their insight into the difference between a claim or lawsuit.