How To Report A Work Injury To The Boss
There are few things less pleasant than having to report a work injury to a supervisor, manager or Human Resource associate. I chose this topic for my blog because many clients ask me for advice on what to say when an injury happens at work. Please know, nothing in this blog was written by AI or a paid blog writer. All the content here is personally created your friendly neighborhood attorney, Samuel Dagan, based on my knowledge and real life experiences.
Every employer handles work injury reports differently. Some employers have well established policies in place where the employee is given all the required forms and is provided with immediate medical care authorized by the workers compensation insurance carrier. At the other extreme, some employers will completely ignore a claim of injury and then fire the employee for having reported an injury in the first place.
California has a “no-fault” workers compensation system. That simply means that an injured worker does not have to show that the employer was negligent to receive workers compensation benefits. The injured worker only needs to establish that the injury Arose Out Of Employment and occurred during the Course Of Employment (AOE/COE). There are some exceptions, however, if the injury happened at work, it is usually covered.
You suffered an injury at work – now what? If possible, take note of any witnesses and take photographs of any equipment or other items involved in the injury. Immediately report the injury to your supervisor. Your employer is required to provide you with a claim form, called a DWC-1, within one day of the injury. In reality, most employers never timely provide claim forms to injured workers. If the employer does not provide you with the claim form, you should send an e-mail or text message to your supervisor requesting the claim form. If you are provided with the form, read the form. The form is short. After reading the form and making sure it is accurate, it is OK to sign the form. It is also a good idea to take a picture of the form if possible.
The employer is required to have workers compensation insurance and is required to report the injury to the insurance company. The insurance company must authorize medical treatment within one day of receiving the claim form. I can not stress enough how important it is to put everything in writing if you are not given a claim form. I recently had a client who suffered a traumatic arm injury while on a construction site. Although the employer was a large company, the supervisor never provided a claim form. To make matters worse, the supervisor never reported the injury to the insurance company. The supervisor drove the injured worker to urgent care and paid cash for the medical care with the goal of hiding the injury from the insurance company. When the employee protested about the way things were being handled, the employer fired the employee. Fortunately, the employee had texted and e-mailed his supervisor that he was injured and wanted to file a workers compensation claim. The employee contacted me, and we pursued a workers compensation claim and wrongful termination case in civil court. We resolved both cases, and the wrongful termination case resolved for several hundred thousand dollars. The employer could have avoided paying out the wrongful termination damages had they simply followed the law and notified the insurance company of the injury.
If you take anything from this post, please know the importance of reporting your injury as soon as possible in writing; either on a claim form, e-mail, text, or with all three. I hope this blog posts helps someone avoid having an unscrupulous employer sweep an injury under the rug. In my next blog post, I will write about how to communicate your doctors’ work restrictions to your employer so your Temporary Disability payments continue being paid.