If you’re injured at work, it’s important to report the incident immediately. Depending on the severity, you may need to seek medical attention. You should also be prompted by your employer to fill out a detailed and comprehensive injury report.
If your employer neglects to have you report the injury, this might be a potential red flag. Having a paper trail for a workplace injury is crucial, especially when you try to seek workers’ compensation benefits.
While some injuries might not seem like a big deal, you could run into serious trouble if your injury worsens and you try to seek compensation at a later date. There are a number of reasons not all on-the-job injuries get reported, but not reporting the issue only makes things worse for the injured employee in the future.
Small Work Injuries can Cause Major Problems
Injuries in the workplace are not uncommon. From sprains and strains to severe traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord damage, the seriousness varies greatly depending on the industry and how the injury happened. Some of the most dangerous industries to work in include construction, logging, fishing, transportation, and warehouse businesses.
The Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) published a report called Construction Workers’ Reasons for Not Reporting Work-Related Injuries: An Exploratory Study. CPWR is a nonprofit organization that focuses on encouraging the elimination of hazardous conditions for construction workers, providing training resources that address issues of importance to workers, and conducting research concerning the quality of working conditions.
The key finding of the study include the following:
- More than 25% of participants said they suffered a work-related injury at some point in their career that they did not report.
- Workers failed to report workplace injuries for numerous reasons, including accepting that injury is part of the job, wanting to remain eligible for safety incentive prizes, not wanting others to see them as weak or as complainers, fearing they would not be hired again if they reported the injury, and finding the paperwork and claim filing process daunting.
- Workers who explain why they didn’t report were most likely to say that “my injury was small” or “pain is a natural part of my job.”
- A number of participants indicated that they feared employer retaliation or loss of work opportunities.
- Other participants said they could not afford to take time off work to see a doctor.
The workers in the study discussed above did not identify their injuries, so there’s no way to determine if they were truly minor. It’s likely, however, that a number of them were serious when they happened or worsened over time.
The Consequences of Delaying Reporting an Injury
While every state has different laws regarding reporting on-the-job injuries. Maryland is among the strictest. According to state law, if you fail to give notice within ten days, you could lose your right to seek and collect workers’ compensation benefits. Notice must be made either orally or in writing. Written notice is best because it documents the day the injury happened and the day you requested benefits.
If you fail to meet the ten-day deadline and you’re ineligible for compensation, recovery will be much harder. You may even lose your job if you need to miss extended time from work. This is why it’s crucial to report any and all injuries, regardless of their severity.
It’s important to note that Maryland’s rules are different in the event of an occupational illness. Once you discover the injury, you have one year to provide written notice to your employer that the disease or condition is related to work. If you fail to do so by the deadline, you could lose some or all of your benefits.
We’ll Fight for Your Workers’ Compensation
After you report your injury, you have to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission within 60 days of your injury. No claims are allowed once two years has passed since the injury date. The Commission will investigate your claim and determine your eligibility for benefits. Their investigation will take your medical records, work experience, wages, and functional capacity evaluation into consideration.
Filing a workers’ comp claim isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s always a good idea to seek legal representation. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we have represented numerous workplace injury victims. If you want help with your claim or you’ve already filed and have been denied, we can help you seek the benefits you need to recover and get back on your feet. For more information, contact our firm today.