That injury is taking up a lot of your time…
…How long do you have to report a workplace injury?
Injured on the job? One of the most important factors in your workers’ compensation case is the very first step: reporting the injury.
Many people are (unpleasantly) surprised to hear that they are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits because they didn’t file a claim within the window.
Which begs the question: How long do you have to report a workplace injury?
How Long Do You Have to Report a Workplace Injury?
According to Florida law, you must report a work-related accident or illness to your employer within 30 days from:
- the date of the injury,
- your knowledge of the injury, or
- a doctor’s determination that you have a workplace injury.
In some cases, it is very clear when the injury or illness began. But in the case of overexertion injuries or illnesses that do not arise suddenly, (such as mesothelioma), no one would be able to determine with absolute certainty when you first started to contract them.
For this reason, the law allows you to count your 30-day timeframe from the date that you and/or your doctor is aware of the injury.
Injured at Work In Florida?
When you file your claim, your employer may ask you to complete and/or sign a First Report of Injury form, which they should send to their workers’ compensation insurance company within seven days.
(If your employer refuses to report your injury to their insurance carrier, you may contact the insurance company and do so directly. Contact the Bureau of Employee Assistance and Ombudsman if you are unsure of your employer’s workers’ comp carrier.)
Other employee Obligations
After you have reported the injury to your employer, you should:
- Go to an emergency room or walk-in clinic (if you believe emergency treatment is necessary),
- Visit your authorized treating physician (if emergency medical attention is not needed),
- Follow up with your employer or contact your employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier.
Never assume that your employer is looking out for your best interest or even that they are doing everything they need to in order to handle your workers’ comp claim. Unfortunately, mistakes and oversights are made and it is your responsibility to fight for the rights and benefits you deserve.
Report Workplace Injuries ASAP
Many people are anxious about reporting work injuries. In some cases, they’re afraid that their employer will retaliate against them. Or perhaps they are afraid of “suing” their job.
Reporting a work injury only means that you are reporting your injury. It isn’t the same as suing your employer or even bringing them to mediation. It is not even a commitment on your part to seek compensation (nor is meeting with an attorney).
Think of an injury report like a bookmark. By reporting a work injury to your employer, you are simply making an official record of the incident in case you need to refer back to it.
Even if you think your accident only needs an ice pack and a couple of Tylenol, you should report it as soon as possible. Some employees try to “walk it off” if they feel their injury isn’t serious enough to warrant a report. They tell themselves that they will feel better, or that because they’re not in pain right now, everything will be fine.
Unfortunately, what can seem at first like a minor injury can sometimes be a serious condition with lifelong effects. If you let those 30 days pass without reporting the accident, your employer will be able to argue that you should not receive any benefits, depriving you of the chance to receive the benefits you deserve.
Reporting a work injury as soon as possible after your accident greatly improves your potential case. And the longer you wait within that 30-day timeframe, the more likely your employer is to question your claim. Employers often feel that if someone has truly been injured, they would not delay reporting the accident.
If you report your accident or injury within 30 days, and nothing comes of it, great! But it’s better to have the accident documented and not need it than the other way around.
Take Control of Your Recovery
Instead of asking yourself “How long do you have to report a workplace injury?” ask: “How soon can I report my workplace injury?”
There are no penalties for reporting early and you are only risking your case the longer you wait. Always report a workplace injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible, as this will greatly improve any claims you may need to file in the future.
Any workers’ comp attorney worth their license will tell you the same thing. Because it is often impossible to know how an injury will affect you long-term, it is best to prepare for the worst case scenario, especially when there are no drawbacks to doing so.
If you have been injured at work, you have the right to seek compensation. Schedule a free consultation with workers’ comp attorney Brian Tadros today to see how he can help you.