How Should I Report My Work Injuries?
If you were injured at work, you may be wondering what you need to do next. One of the first things you should do after a work-related injury is report the injury to your employer. We’ve listed a few best practices to follow when reporting an injury to your employer.
Report Injuries As Soon As Possible.
Anytime you are injured at work, you should report the injury to your employer or supervisor immediately or, at the very least, the same day the injury occurred. If you are unsure if a medical issue or symptom is related to a work injury, it’s a good practice to notify your employer of this injury and its possible relation to your employment.
In Pennsylvania, if you do not notify your employer of an injury within 21 days, no compensation is due until that notice is given. Additionally, you must provide notice to your employer within 120 days. If not, you give up your rights to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your work injuries. Therefore, injuries should be reported as soon as possible so that your rights are protected and you avoid other complications down the road.
Consult Your Employee Handbook.
Many employers have specific rules for reporting work injuries, and they should be followed. These rules may inform you who you should notify at your company, whether a specific form should be filled out, and a time frame in which you should report any injury to your employer. If you are unsure whether your employer has any procedures in place for reporting work injuries, consult your employee handbook or ask your employer. While you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you do not follow these guidelines, an employer may use it as a basis for disciplining you or even terminating your employment. In order to avoid any risk, you should know what your employer’s policies are for reporting work injuries.
Provide As Much Detail As Possible.
When you report a work injury, you should do so with as much detail as possible. Information you should provide to your employer includes: the task you were performing at the time of injury or the injury’s relation to your employment; the injuries you sustained; the time and date you were injured; and anybody that may have witnessed the injury. If you start experiencing new symptoms after you have reported an injury, you should report these new symptoms to your employer. For example, if you notified your employer that you injured your shoulder and the next day your back starts hurting, you should report this to your employer as soon as possible.
Keep Record Of All Communications With Your Employer.
In a workers’ compensation proceeding, the burden is on you, the injured worker, to properly notify your employer that you sustained a work-related injury. Keeping records of these encounters creates a paper-trail of your work injury and avoids the possibility of your employer denying that they received notice of the injury. You should never assume that a voicemail or letter was received. Instead, you should follow up with your employer to confirm receipt of your notice and keep detailed records of all communications between yourself and your employer.
For example, if you reported your injury to your employer verbally, it is also a good practice to follow up with an email or written letter containing the same details that you reported verbally. This ensures that both you and your employer have a written record of the work injury and the details of the injury. On the other hand, if you notified your employer via email or in writing, a good practice would be to follow up in person or on the phone to confirm that the notice was received. You should also keep notes of who you talked to and when the conversation occurred. Again, you want to ensure that your employer has received notice of your injury and that there is a record of that notice. Further, you should retain a copy of all written communications between yourself and your employer.
Report “Minor” Injuries.
Sometimes injuries seem minor, and so you may not feel it needs to be reported to your employer. However, you should still report it to your employer. By reporting “minor” injuries to your employer, you are protecting your ability to receive compensation if your injury becomes more serious down the road. Remember, work injuries must be reported within 120 days. Therefore, even these smaller, more minor work injuries should be reported.
Consult A Workers’ Compensation Attorney.
Reporting your work injuries is just the first step in the process after you’ve been injured at work. After reporting your injury to your employer, the next step should be to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights. At Freeburn & Hamilton, you can consult with one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys free of charge. Each case is different, and you owe it to yourself to consult with an attorney that will fight for you.