What should you do if you have an accident or become injured on the job? Immediately notify your employer of the incident! Why? Because failure to notify your employer in a timely manner could cost you the benefits to which you may be entitled under the company’s workers’ compensation policy.
A worker in the District of Columbia found this out the hard way.
Here is the case: This employee lifted something heavy and herniated a disc while at work in May of 2012. She says she felt a pop, her back hurt, and she knew right away that it had happened. However, she had been out of work for over a year and had just started her new job. For fear of being terminated, she continued to work and never mentioned the injury.
After her pain continued to worsen, she sought medical attention. A herniated disc was diagnosed by MRI in February of 2013. At this time, she reported the incident to her employer.
Unfortunately, the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services found that pursuant to Section 32-1513 of D.C. Workers’ Compensation Act, the worker had to notify her employer of injury within 30 days after the date of injury, or 30 days after she knew, or should have known, after reasonable inquiry or investigation, that there was a relationship between the injury and her employment. The Department also found that the worker’s failure to notify did not fall under any exception to notice.
Bottom line? The injured worker’s request for disability benefits, authorization for medical treatment, and payment of medical bills was denied.
“The same holds true in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” says Herndon workers’ compensation attorney Doug Landau. “Each state has its own set of time limits and deadlines as to when an employee must notify his or her employer of an on-the-job injury. Once the deadlines have passed, there is generally not much we can do. If you are injured on the job, do yourself a favor and report it at once. I have seen many cases like this one where an incident is not reported for one reason or another, but months or even years down the road, the injury is still causing problems. By then it is usually too late.”