In my workers comp law practice, I help injured workers collect benefits under the Massachusetts workers compensation law. One problem that I see from time to time is when workers delay reporting the work accident to their employer.
In my experience, delays reporting a work injury usually occur because (1) the worker is not aware of the severity of the injury at the time of the accident or (2) the worker fears that he/she may be fired for reporting a work accident. For whatever reason the worker may delay reporting the accident, it is a mistake not to report the accident right away even if the worker does not lose time from work because of the accident.
Problems that may occur if you don’t report your work accident right away:
- Employer and workers comp insurer may deny that your accident occurred
- Workers comp insurer may deny your workers comp claim
- You may have to wait for months without workers comp benefits or medical coverage while you wait for your claim to be processed at the Department of Industrial Accidents
What should you do after a work injury? Report it to your employer right away. Make sure that your employer makes a record in your personnel file about your accident. Most companies do this by completing an accident report used by your employer.
If you are seriously injured or think that you may be seriously injured, you should seek medical attention immediately and go to the emergency room or see your primary care doctor. Be sure to give an accurate and complete description of your work injury and tell the doctor or nurse exactly how the injury happened. Make sure the doctor or nurse understands that you were injured at work. Your bill for this medical service should be submitted to and paid by your employer’s workers compensation insurance company. Your employer is legally required to provide you with the name and contact information for its workers compensation insurance company. If they don’t, you can search for the name of the insurer on the Department of Industrial Accidents website.
If you continue to work after a work injury and, later, you re-injure yourself in a subsequent work accident or as a result of doing repetitive work activities or repetitive heavy lifting, you should report the re-injury to your employer and fill out a new accident report. Document the prior injury and describe how you re-injured yourself at work. Then, you should seek immediate medical attention at the emergency room or your primary care doctor. Again, be sure that you provide the doctor or nurse with a complete history of your injury including the original work accident and how your re-injury occurred at work.
If you have any questions about Massachusetts workers compensation benefits or if you have been denied workers comp, you should contact an experienced workers comp attorney.