Americans show up to work every day and put in their hours. Unfortunately, many jobs in the country do involve a degree of risk. If you’re injured on the job, you typically file an accident report and seek medical treatment.
Under the law, these injuries have to be covered by your employer under a worker’s compensation insurance. So what can you do if your workers comp claim isn’t being acknowledged by your employer? It can put you in a difficult and uncomfortable situation.
Compensation claims are time-sensitive and can be key to getting the treatment and medical attention that you need. Read on, and we’ll walk you through what to do in this type of situation:
Know Your Employee Rights
The best weapon you can have in your arsenal as an employee is to know your rights and know them well. If you know what your employer is legally required to do, you can approach a situation with a lot more confidence.
It is your employer’s responsibility to report any injuries that you sustain to the Department of Labor division present in your state. In order for that to happen, you first need to report the injury to them. Doing this as soon as possible following injury is key.
It’s also important that you understand that worker’s compensation claims are considered ‘no fault’ claims. That means no matter what you were doing prior to the injury, even if you were negligent, you are still eligible for compensation. Don’t let your employer try to convince you that you’re not: as long as you were performing duties for your job, you can file a claim and receive benefits.
Filing workers comp claims should be easy and quick for all employees. If it is not, your employer may be guilty of non-compliance with the law.
An employer also has a right to provide a reasonably safe environment for working. If your injury is a result of unsafe working conditions, you may be eligible for more compensation than just worker’s comp.
Why Would an Employer Not Acknowledge Claim?
In most instances, an employer will report your claim to the Division of Labor and things will proceed as they should. There are some instances where this may not be the case.
This may be because your employer is not currently carrying worker’s compensation insurance for their business. In almost all instances, an employer is legally required to have this insurance, so their lack of coverage would be illegal.
Even if they do have insurance, they may be avoiding filing your claim to avoid raising their insurance rates. Avoiding filing a claim or any form of non-compliance is considered illegal as well.
Some employers may state that the injury you’ve sustained isn’t severe enough to require a filing for worker’s compensation. This is not a call for them to make, this is a call for a doctor to make. Even if you’ve sustained a similar injury in the past, that should have no bearing at all on the current and present injury.
Even if there was a delay in reporting or some sort of special circumstance surrounding your injury, an employer still must report any accident brought up to them. It will be up to the Division of Labor and the insurance company to make any decisions on these factors.
No matter the situation, if you are injured your first priority should be getting proper medical attention for yourself following the incident. Your safety is important above all else.
What to Do in a Bad Situation
If your employer is refusing to acknowledge your claim, you likely feel helpless and extremely worried. There are steps that you can take.
First off, don’t ever agree or accept cash payment from an employer if they offer to cover lost wages or medical costs themselves. These promises are usually not kept, and even if they are, they likely won’t cover the extent of costs that you’ll be facing.
No matter what an employer requests, don’t ever lie and change the circumstances surrounding your accident. Make sure you tell doctors and insurance providers exactly what happened, or you might jeopardize your chance at compensation.
If your employer isn’t reporting your injury at all, you will need to take immediate action, or your right to a claim might be compromised. Reach out to your State Worker’s Compensation Board as soon as possible and notify them of the situation.
The board will get you in front of the right paperwork that you’ll need to file. Typically, from WC-14 or WC-177 are used. You might also want to obtain the help of a lawyer during this time who can help you navigate the potential case you might have against your employer.
The most important thing is that you act at the proper speed. Your employer not reporting your injury isn’t an excuse to get a claim into the state or to an insurance provider months late. Make sure to act fast whenever you sustain an injury at work.
Filing a Workers Comp Claim
Injuries and your health are nothing to mess around with, and that’s why it’s so essential you understand how filing a workers comp claim works. If your employer is not complying with you during this process, the above information should help walk you through the steps you can take.
Need more advice, tips, or tricks for the workplace? Check out our career section for more.