American workers are made of stern stuff. Most share the common work ethic that includes that little voice in our heads that says, "Buck up. Shake it off. Get back in the game." This can be admirable, but if you are hurt on the job, enduring the pain and trauma without complaint is a mistake.
After an accident or injury at work, employees have responsibilities to do certain things to protect their rights under the law. Here are the common mistakes injured workers make:
- Not reporting the injury: Reporting any work accident, as soon as it happens, is the first step in protecting your rights. Failure to inform your employer in writing within 30 days of the accident could jeopardize any award of benefits. Report work injuries, even if they seem minor at the time, and even if you are going to try and "work through it". If you fail to formally report the accident and you experience problems or a worsening of your condition at some later time, you put your chances of receiving benefits at risk.
- Not getting treatment, or not telling the doctor about the work accident: Even if you don't think the injury is serious, seek a doctor's opinion and make sure the doctor knows that you were injured at work. Be sure the doctor gets all the details of what happened. Accurate medical records are important to the process, and medical evidence that shows you sought treatment for a work injury, at the time of the injury, can usually help your case.
- Not filing a claim: There are specific time periods in which you must formally file a claim with the NYS Workers' Compensation Board, utilizing specific forms. If you fail to do so, or do so incorrectly, your claim could be denied.
Protecting your rights under the workers' compensation law requires specific actions, and it is very possible that certain mistakes, or a failure to do something correctly, could kill your claim for benefits. You can avoid errors by having an experienced workers' compensation attorney on your side.