Always immediately report any work comp injury to your employer at the time of the injury. Employers are charged with the knowledge of the procedures. You should be provided what is called a Form N to complete. The “N” stands for notice, and allows you to easily document the time, date, location and description of the injury. It also provides for the names and contact information for co-employee witnesses. All of this information is critical to a successful claim. For example, valuable witnesses change jobs, forget, and become less helpful as time goes by. So, it is critical to get their statement early in the claim.
Failing to Report Your Work-Related Injury
If you do not immediately report your injury, you are only causing problems for yourself and the attorney that you will eventually have to hire. Failure to timely report your injury provides the insurance company with justification to deny your claim, and the employer will certainly investigate the injury with more scrutiny than normal. Many times people tell me they didn’t immediately report a workplace injury because they thought it was just a sprain and hoped it would resolve on its own. However, some extremely serious injuries, such as herniated discs in your low back or neck, rotator cuff tears in your shoulder, and meniscus tears in your knee, don’t just go away without medical attention.
- For example, you can tear a cervical or lumbar disc at work and later the inner disc material seeps out of that tear resulting in nerve root impingement with radiating pain down your arms or legs. I’ve had many clients explain that they woke the following morning after a work injury and could barely get out of bed. This is not unusual. Unfortunately, failing to immediately report the injury on the day it occurs raises the suspicion that the injury occurred at home after work, especially if the incident was not witnessed by a co-employee.
It is probably most important to report Friday injuries. I’ve represented so many clients that failed to report a work injury on Friday believing they would feel better over the weekend. When the injury gets worse over the weekend and they report on Monday, the employer immediately becomes suspicious. The insurance company will usually deny the claim arguing that you must have been injured over the weekend performing non-work related activities.
Arkansas also has one of the strictest (and unrealistic) hernia statutes. Arkansas law requires injured workers to prove five things to be entitled to medical treatment for a work related hernia. One of these requirements includes reporting the injury within forty-eight (48) hours of the injury. A second requirement requires the injured worker to receive medical treatment for the hernia within seventy-two (72) hours of the injury. For example, if you sustain a hernia injury on Friday and fail to report until Monday, your claim will be denied.
Going to Your Own Doctor for a Work Related Injury
I routinely see employees compound the problem of failing to report the injury by calling in sick the next day, going to their own doctor, and filing under their own health insurance. Most health clinics will refuse to file with your health insurance if you tell them you were hurt at work. In fact, most doctors, surgeons, and therapists flat out refuse to provide medical treatment to injured workers. And even those health care providers that do treat injured workers can only do so after receiving authorization from the insurance company. To get around this problem, many injured workers don’t tell their doctor the injury occurred at work. This results in a medical record that does not document the work injury and pretty much guarantees the work comp insurance carrier will deny the claim when you report it late.
Burden of Proof
Arkansas workers have the burden of proving every element of a work injury. We must prove:
- That the work-related injury was caused by a specific work incident, such as lifting a heavy box, twisting awkwardly, repairing a piece of machinery, or falling off of a platform.
- The specific incident occurred while you were advancing your employer’s interests. Immediately reporting the injury to your employer gets us over these two initial hurdles of proof.
- That the injury is legitimate through objective medical evidence.
This critical information is most fresh in your mind immediately when it happens. It is to your advantage to report your injury immediately. The longer you wait, gives the employer more opportunity to deny the claim. Insurance adjusters are trained to look for ways to deny your case. It’s their job.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney Located in Springdale, AR
Give my office a call at 479-361-3575 if you have questions about your claim or if your claim has been denied. You can also contact me online. I am happy to explain the rules and help get you the work comp benefits you deserve. I have over 20 years of experience litigating work-related claims. I will make sure that you are not tricked and instead fight to get the best care and compensation for your claim.