If you’re injured on the job, your employee rights should guarantee workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and recovery. Workers’ compensation laws state that employers, despite profit objections, must provide support to all eligible employees who suffer injuries as a direct result of a workplace accident. In fact, the majority of businesses have insurance specifically dedicated for workers’ comp claims.
Consequences of a Delayed Claim for Both Employees and Employers
It’s important to know that when you’re injured at work, you only have 30 days to report the incident and pursue a workers’ comp claim. If you fail to file your case within that time, your claim can be invalidated or denied. Therefore, no matter the type of accident or the severity of your injuries, you need to report all job-related accidents as soon as they occur. Otherwise, both you and your employer could wind up suffering the following complications:
- Employee consequences: Postponing your claim can jeopardize its eligibility and result in a forfeiture of your rights to benefits. The longer you wait to file, the longer you’ll have to delay your recovery. As a result, your injuries may worsen, making it difficult to argue when, how, and why the accident initially occurred. When a timeline isn’t set, an insurance company can argue that your injuries weren't work-related at all, thus voiding your claim. Therefore, though you may be hesitant to pursue a claim for a minor injury, notify your supervisor immediately to begin the workers’ compensation process.
- Employer consequences: Employers have a responsibility to educate all management and staff about the importance of rapid response in the workers' comp process. If an employee reports an incident to a supervisor, there shouldn't be any delay in processing that report. The more time that passes between the accident and a delayed filing can cause additional complaints within an employee's claim. For instance, by the time the claim is filed, a prolonged injury may require additional medical expenses than those needed for the initial injury. Furthermore, an employee may require more recovery time to recuperate, and more aggressive treatment. What does this mean for the company? Unnecessary health jeopardy for the employee, and higher costs to the settle the claim.
The Difference a Week Makes
On average, delayed workers’ compensation claims are settled for 51 percent more than those filed immediately after an accident. According to a study performed by the National Council on Compensation, average costs for occupational injury costs gradually increase depending on the timeframe in which injured employees report the incident. Over a four-week period, or the recommended 30-day reporting window, the following cost adjustments were detected in workers’ comp settlement averages if the incident is reported:
- Within a week of the accident, the average claim cost $12,844
- Within two weeks of the accident, the average claim cost $13,120
- Within three weeks of the accident, the average claim cost $17,785
- Within four weeks of the accident, the average claim cost $19,936
So, what should you take away from all this data? Whether you’re an employee or an employer, when dealing with workplace accidents and occupational injuries, do not delay processing a workers’ compensation claim.
For more information on workers’ compensation claims and how to build a strong case from the start, follow us on Facebook for periodic article updates. For a more personal discussion of your employee rights following an accident, contact us directly via phone, email, or by filling out the convenient contact form on this page to arrange for a free consultation. We look forward to using our skills and knowledge to help uphold your rights.