Picture this: You’re at work, and your boss comes and requests you to carry some heavy boxes to the delivery truck. As soon as you get to the third box, you feel a sharp twinge in your lower back. What do you do in such a situation?
Ideally, you should report all personal accidents to your immediate supervisor, even if they don’t require medical attention. More importantly, ( if you can) make sure you document your report.
You can do this by:
- Submitting a First Report of Injury Form
- Send an Email or text to your bosses
- Reporting the incident in front of witnesses.
In California, the workers’ compensation laws require all workers to report accidents or injuries that occurred in the course of their work duties within 30 days of the incident. Notably, there are some instances where you may not be able to establish the particular cause of your injuries. In such a scenario, the law gives you up to 30 days to report your injury, from the time you establish that it was work-related.
One mistake that most people make when injured at work is waiting until the injury gets serious before they report it. To better illustrate how this could complicate things for you and how workers’ comp claims work, here’s an example:
So, you get a new job, and at the end of your first week (Friday), you injure your back while lifting heavy equipment. Naturally, you don’t want to come off as a “whiny wimp” to your new colleagues, so you decide to brush off your unwitnessed accident. On Sunday, the sharp twinge you felt on Friday has gotten worse, and you can’t comfortably move your body. Your family calls an ambulance, and you are taken straight to the emergency room.
At the hospital, you tell the ER doctor about your situation, and they refer you to your family doctor. Your family doctor prescribes antispasmodics and muscle relaxers to help with the pain. Thereafter, the pain reduces considerably enough for you to go to work on Monday, but your back does not get any better. Nonetheless, you persevere and work through the pain as you don’t want to jeopardize your new job.
In the meantime, you keep going back to your primary doctor, who continues to prescribe various drugs. However, after a few weeks, your back fails to improve, and it is at this point that your doctor refers you to an orthopedic, who in turn advises you to go for an MRI. The MRI results show that you have a herniated disk whose only remedy is back surgery.
At that point, you realize that you’re in serious trouble, as you’re likely to miss work for several weeks or even months. And since you didn’t report the accident to your employer, getting compensation will be tricky.
As an employee, you are advised not to delay filing a workers’ comp claim, as you may find yourself stuck in a legal and financial jungle when you have an unreported accident. Therefore, report your accident as soon as it happens, and consult a personal injury attorney soon after you notice signs of an aggravating injury.