How to Report Your Injury to Your Employer
Under Georgia law, you are required to give notice of your on-the-job injury within 30 days of that injury. If you do not give notice within this 30 day period, your employer can deny your claim.
As I note on the video, notice should be given to a supervisor or manager. It is not sufficient to tell a co-worker or administrative person with no authority. I also recommend that you give notice in writing – many employer have work injury report forms – if you fill out one of these forms, try to get a copy for your records. If your employer does not have a form, you can simply write or type a brief report – “Dear Mr ___, please be advised that at approximately 2:15 pm on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 I injured my back on the job when a forklift knocked over a palette which struck me and knocked me to the floor.”
Report Your Injury Immediately – Do Not Delay
I always recommend that you report your on the job injury as soon as possible because if you do not, your employer may try to use any delay against you. For example, I recently represented a client who suffered a severe lower back injury at work on a Friday morning. There were witnesses and the injury was related to my client’s job duties. For a number of reasons my client did not report his injury to the supervisor until Monday morning.
My client explained to me that he was concerned about losing his job and he was hoping that his pain would go away over the weekend, which, of course, it did not.
Despite the witnesses and the obvious relationship between the physical nature of my client’s job and his injury, the insurance company adjuster “controverted” (challenged) his claim on the grounds that he could have injured himself that weekend at home.
I filed for a hearing and once the employer/insurer’s lawyer investigated, he backed down, but my client ended up without weekly wage benefits and without needed medical care for over 2 months. I doubt that we would have had to deal with this delay if my client had reported his injury to his supervisor immediately after it happened.
Decline Your Employer’s Offer to Use Group Health Rather than Workers’ Compensation
Similarly, I have represented clients who tell me that their employer encouraged them to file a claim for medical benefits under group health, rather than filing a workers’ compensation claim. This is also a bad idea. Group health carriers will inevitably deny coverage for treatment arising from a work injury (workers compensation insurance is considered “primary coverage”) and you could find yourself fighting to prove that you did give timely notice.
What you should take away from the video and this section of my web site should be clear: do not assume anything. Do not assume that your employer will treat a vague conversation as proper notice of injury and do assume that your employer and their insurance company will look for technicalities to deny your claim. If you are not sure what to do, please call me and I will help you.
Proper notice will set the stage for a much more pleasant experience. If the employer/insurer can find a reason to assert that they did not receive notice, they will controvert your claim from day 1 and you could wait months for your day in court, or you may find yourself backed into a lowball “no-liability” settlement because you desperately need the money.