If You Were Injured At Work, Report Your Injury
If you have been injured at work, it is important to know that you have rights and are protected under the law. However, one of the most important initial steps you can take is to report your injury, no matter how minor it might seem. If you fail to report your work injury, you could be denied important medical benefits and wages later on.
The Texas workers’ compensation system provides income benefits to replace lost wages for workers with compensable injuries or illnesses and medical benefits for treatment related to the injury or illness. However, if you fail to report your injury when it occurs, your employer and/or their insurance company can deny that the accident occurred and/or that it occurred at work.
What can Happen to You if You don’t Report an Injury?
If you fail to report your injury, your employer can deny that the accident happened, workers’ compensation will deny benefits, and your private health insurance will not pay for medical treatment. It is critical that any injury beyond first aid treatment is reported. You may not immediately know the extent of your injuries and for this reason alone it is in your best interest to report the incident.
Even if you create a handwritten report identifying what happened, when it happened and the type of injury you think you suffered would be sufficient if your employer does not have a reporting procedure in place. Make sure you date and sign the handwritten report and photocopy it so you can keep a copy or create two copies if a photocopier is not available.
Your Employer and Accident Reporting
It is in an employer’s best interest to encourage employees to report injuries; otherwise, there can be dangerous repercussions. Best practices include encouraging employees to report all incidents, whereby employees should feel comfortable that there will be no negative repercussions for reporting an accident. This includes using environmental, health, and safety systems to track serious injuries all the way down to “near misses.”
If your employer does not have a system like this in place, or safety employees who document incidents, employees should make sure that they personally document any incidents or accidents that affect them.
How do You Report an Injury at work in Texas?
Reporting your injury to your employer (as well as your union, if you are part of one) using an accident report form (written, in the presence of a witness) is the best way to ensure that you are protected.
In order to be considered compensable, the injury must have occurred within the course and scope of employment. Thus, it excludes any injuries associated with illegal activity, a worker being intoxicated, any willful attempts to hurt oneself or someone else, and related incidents. An insurance carrier has 60 days from receiving the notice of a claim to investigate and determine if the injury is compensable.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a work-related injury or illness must be recorded if it results in one or more of the following:
- Days away from work;
- Restricted work or transfer to another job;
- Medical treatment beyond first aid; or
- Loss of consciousness.
However, OSHA dictates that minor injuries requiring first aid only do not need to be recorded, defining first aid as:
- Using a non-prescription medication at non-prescription strength;
- Administering tetanus immunizations; cleaning, flushing, or soaking wounds on the surface of the skin;
- Using wound coverings such as bandages, Band-Aids, gauze pads, etc.;
- Using hot or cold therapy;
- Using any non-rigid means of support, such as elastic bandages;
- Using temporary immobilization devices while transporting an accident victim;
- Using eye patches;
- Removing foreign bodies from the eye using only irrigation or a cotton swab;
- Removing splinters or other foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, or other simple means;
- Using finger guards;
- Using massages; or
- Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress.
Contact us if You Have Been Injured at Work
Our Houston work injury attorneys handle all work injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you pay us nothing and we only get paid if we recover compensation for you injury. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.