I receive calls every day from workers who have been injured on the job. Recently, I received a call from a worker injured more than six months ago. The employee worked for a small company and was actually working with the owner at the time of the accident. At that time, the worker although injured did not know if it would require a trip to the doctor. He did not report the claim to his employer because his employer was actually with him at the time he was hurt. The employee did not request a claim be filed with the worker’s compensation insurance carrier and time went on. Unfortunately, the injury did not get better and in fact over time got worse. Ultimately, due to the poor economy, the employee was laid off and still had not filed a claim or talked to the employer’s worker’s compensation insurance company. The employee lost his health insurance and now, more than six months after the accident, inquired as to what should be done. I declined representation of this matter for several reasons.
First, the employee did not recall the actual date of the accident. For most cases, the first question that the Department of Workforce Development asks is the date of injury. If you do not have a date of injury it is likely your claim will be disputed by the insurance carrier and perhaps even denied by worker’s compensation.
Next, there was no report of the injury which is generally to be done by an employee within a few days of the accident. Of course, there are exceptions but in this case there was no written documentation evidencing an injury.
In addition, so much time had gone by that the insurance company would undoubtedly have disputed the claim with the defense that there was no evidence that the injury, now more than six months after the alleged date of accident, was not caused by a work-related event.
Finally, the one and only witness, the employer, was no longer returning phone calls or even speaking with the ex-employee. Originally, the employee thought he had nothing to worry about because the boss knew of the injury and was more than willing to help if necessary. As time goes by people’s recollection of events tend to change whether intentionally or not.
The case is a good example of what you need to do if you are injured on the job even if you do not think you require medical attention when you are injured. Report the injury to your employer even if your employer is with you. Ask the employer to fill out an accident report form and ask your employer to forward it to the insurance company or have the employer make sure the insurance company contacts you to document the injury. If you do not miss work or require any medical attention there will be no claim. However, if your injury does prove worse than expected and you do require medical attention or have to be off of work you will then have what is necessary to pursue a worker’s compensation claim. Insurance companies are much less likely to deny a claim if there was prompt notification of the injury.
Of course, had the employee contacted me shortly after the accident I would have told him all of the above. It is likely that he would never have needed my services but would have received the proper medical attention paid for by the worker’s compensation insurance company. If you or a loved one have been injured on the job, even if you do not know for certain that your injury will require medical treatment, please make sure to follow the above rules and contact me for a no cost, no obligation consultation. If there is a case our fees are based on the percentage of the recovery. This means that unless there is a recovery there are no fees owed. Our first consultation is always free with no obligation. In Madison contact (608) 824-9540, in Baraboo contact (608) 356-3961 or statewide contact (866) 455-2993.
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