Whenever a workplace injury occurs, the employee is required to notify the employer of the incident as soon as possible, no later than 30 days from the accident. Once the employee does this, the employer must complete an injury report and file it with the workers’ compensation insurance provider of the company. If you employer fails to meet this requirement, refuses to cooperate, or attempts to discourage you from filing a claim, this is illegal. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon.
Employers may try to pressure you into returning to work before you should to reduce what they will have to pay in workers’ compensation benefits. They may even promise light duty work and then fail to deliver. Employers may also try to trick you into using your own healthcare insurance to cover your medical treatment, because they know that failing to mention the work-related nature of the incident and charging your own insurance can be perceived as evidence that the injury is not work related if you later pursue a claim.
Employers can also convince you to continue to accept your regular pay while you take time off of work instead of filing a claim. This is a bad idea because it will leave no record of your injury and you’ll have no ground to stand on if you are unfairly terminated later or if your injuries grow worse. In many cases, employers are simply dishonest about the process of filing a claim and may delay filing the report in hopes that you’ll drop the idea or that the statute of limitations will run out on you, leaving you no course of action.
Some employers will even work with the company recommended doctor to minimize your injuries, thus minimizing your compensation. Then, there are employers who will outright threaten you against filing a claim. They may threaten punishment or termination.
All of these tactics are illegal, and you should never forget that you have a right to report workplace injuries and a right to file a claim for workers’ compensation when you’ve been injured on the job. You can receive the necessary form from the North Carolina Industrial Commission and file it directly with the state if your employer will not provide you with the form.
If your employer refuses to adhere to the employer injury report requirements, then you should continue to document your injuries, take stapes to start the claims process anyway, and seek the advice and representation of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.