Reporting Your Injury: Rights and Duties
The proper reporting of a work-related injury requires communication between the injured worker and the employer. Once the employer has received notice of a work injury, the employer has certain responsibilities under the law. Giving your employer notification of a work injury is extremely important because prompt notice enables the employer to investigate the injury. The circumstances surrounding the work injury should be communicated to the employer in clear, concise terms. It is important to give details of the injury, the parts of the body injured, the names of witnesses and the identification of any defective equipment that might have caused the injury. You have rights and duties in reporting your injury, if you are unsure about the time limits and all the action you need to take contact us today.
Prompt action: Essential to the reporting of a work injury is that the employee takes prompt action. Report the injury as soon as possible. Note that the report does NOT have to be in writing! A report can be made verbally. The verbal reporting of an injury is just as valid as a written report. Obviously, in order to have further proof of having given notice, you may later wish to complete or submit a written accident report. However, the point here is that an injury should be reported promptly. For your sake, it is better to report the injury as soon as possible.
Time limits: There are certain time limits for reporting an injury. Under the law, notice of an injury (verbal or written) must be given to your employer no more than 120 days from the date of the injury unless the employer already had knowledge. If notice is not given within 120 days, this will result in the denial of your workers compensation coverage. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that your employer will voluntarily agree to pay you for an injury. If, for example, you report an injury 60 days after it occurs, you are still within the statutory time limits for reporting an injury. The problem is that the employer will most likely question the occurrence of the injury due to the passage of time. Also, the employer will not be able to investigate the matter to his or her satisfaction. Witnesses may forget that the injury occurred. The workplace that existed at the time of the injury may have been altered so that the exact reconstruction of the injury cannot be demonstrated.
An important feature of prompt notification is that retroactive benefits will be paid if notice is given within 21 days after the occurrence of the injury. For example, if you are injured on January 1 and report the injury within 21 days, benefits would be paid beginning January 2. However, if you were injured on January 1 and began to miss work right away, but failed to notify your employer of your injury until March 1, then benefits would begin to be paid on March 1, and not January 2. You could lose valuable disability benefits by not reporting your injury promptly.
The employer’s responsibility: Upon receiving notice that a work injury has occurred, the employer is responsible for completing a form entitled “Employer’s Report of Occupational Injury or Disease.” This form must be sent to the employer’s workers compensation insurance carrier, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, and the employee; a copy is kept in the employer’s file. Note that the employee is responsible for providing the information to the employer for filling out the accident report. This is the only form that the law requires the employer to complete.
The insurance carrier’s responsibility: The insurance carrier has 21 days from the date the injury was reported to investigate and then accept or deny the claim. The insurance carrier will notify the employee that compensation is going to be paid (by issuing a Notice of Compensation Payable) or that compensation is not going to be paid (by issuing a Notice of Compensation Denial). Also, the first installment of compensation due and owing is to be paid within 21 days. Obviously, insurance companies do not always complete investigations within the 21-day period. We get many calls from injured workers who complain about the lack of progress in the investigation of a workers compensation claim.
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