When is a minor injury not minor?
Pop quiz from the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group: You work at a small marketing firm, and after a stream of success, the company is moving into a newer upgraded office space. As you’re helping to move files from the old office to the new one, you trip on a wire and fall. Your wrist hurts a little, but it’s mostly your ego that has been bruised. Should you: (A) Stand up and continue moving on into your new office; (B) Assume that since your boss saw the incident she will fill tell you if any paperwork needs to be filed; or (C) insist on completing an incident report.
Which Would You Pick?
The correct answer is….C. On paper a lot of people “know” what they should do, but when faced with the situation in real life many people are embarrassed or feel like their minor injury wasn't bad enough to report. Don’t make this common mistake! That minor injury could turn out to be worse than you thought, even becoming a chronic injury.
Failure to report your minor injury could make proving that your injury occurred on the job, and thus your entitlement to workers’ compensation, more difficult, especially if you experienced a subsequent trauma that could have caused the minor injury. In the scenario above, if you had later gotten into a car accident, the employer might argue that the accident, and not your fall, was the true cause of your minor injury.
In addition to proof issues, you are required by law to report your minor injury to your employer within four days of the injury. For each day you delay, you may lose one day of compensation. If your employer has not posted notice of this four-day reporting requirement, you may be able to get around it, but it’s not worth the risk. Always report injuries immediately.
Take Care of the Injury
Once your injury has been reported, you should seek medical analysis and treatment for it. As a practical matter, a doctor may be able to identify the severity of your injury and possibly recommend treatment or therapy that can significantly reduce recovery time. What doctor should you go to? Generally, you are required to go to the physician of your employer’s choosing. Exceptions are made in the case of life threatening injuries or where your employer has not selected a physician for you.
Treatment for your on-the-job injuries will generally be covered (ie. paid for) by workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is actually a type of insurance that your employer is required to pay for out of their pocket. It covers on-the-job injuries, and you might expect only “reasonable and necessary” medical treatment. Necessary means that your workers’ compensation benefits will not cover cosmetic removal of a mole when you injured your wrist on the job; reasonable means that your workers’ compensation benefits will not cover five years of physical therapy for a minor, sprained wrist. These are, of course, exaggerations, simply designed to explain the basics.
Speak With an Attorney for More Information
Think you may have a worker’s compensation claim? Contact the attorneys at the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group today to discuss your claim.