Although improvements towards worker and workplace safety continue, employees still suffer serious on the job injuries. Employees injured at work have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. The most important step of a workers’ compensation claim is the initial reporting. Unfortunately, many employees fail to report workplace injuries in a timely manner, leading to a loss of benefits.
Reporting requirement in Illinois
Depending on the time and location of the injury, immediate reporting may not be possible. Generally reporting an injury within a few days is fine. Illinois requires workers to report on the job injuries within 45 days. The employer may have their own shorter reporting time frame. However, that is only a company policy which the state law trumps. Regardless of any employer policies in place, timely reporting of a workplace injury protects your workers’ compensation benefits.
Gradually manifesting injuries
Often employees fail to report a workplace injury because they think the injury is small and not worth the trouble. But small injuries can be misleading and turn into a serious problem in time. For instance, soft tissue injuries can take weeks or longer to manifest as an ongoing problem instead of just a strain. Injured workers need to report any injury, no matter how insignificant it seems at the time of the incident. It is also important to seek medical attention for even seemingly minor injuries. Make sure to inform the doctor of how the injury occurred and any relevant injury symptoms.
Strengthening your claim
Employers have a legal responsibility to record and report workplace injuries. After you report the injury to your employer, request to see the injury report form and review it for accuracy. It is also a good idea to request a copy of the form to keep with your records. Documenting your injury with photos of the accident scene and the injuries, along with medical records and treatment history strengthens your claim. Consistency between your medical records and the claim report is essential to prevent denial of your claim.
Reporting a workplace injury in a timely manner is the easiest and most critical step you can take to protect yourself. Don’t let a workplace injury turn into a larger problem by not reporting it right away.