Do I Need To Report My Accident Within 24 Hours?

Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

QUESTION: I DID NOT TELL MY BOSS WITHIN 24 HOURS ABOUT THE ACCIDENT I HAD AT WORK. DOES THIS MEAN I CANNOT COLLECT WORKERS COMP?

ANSWER: THERE IS NO 24-HOUR REPORTING REQUIREMENT UNDER THE COMPENSATION LAW

Joe was working on one of the old boilers at the old Jefferson High School when he tripped over a wrench. Banged up his knee pretty bad. After the ER visit, the X-rays, the knee brace, and the really good painkillers, Joe went back to work intending to let his boss know of his injury and to file Workers Comp paperwork. But one thing led to another and it wasn’t until three days later that Joe remembered he hadn’t told his boss or had filed any paperwork. Joe panicked.

Wasn’t there a rule that in order to file a Workers Comp claim, you had to have told your boss within 24 hours of the accident? That ER bill was steep and paying out of pocket would really blow his already-stretched paycheck. Joe was so pissed he would have kicked the wall if his knee didn’t hurt so much.

Don’t give up, Joe! File, Joe!! File!!

An injured worker does not have to notify his or her employer within 24 hours to collect benefits under the Workers Compensation Law. He or she may have to notify an employer within 24 hours to make sure they are entitled to certain benefits from the employer or their union. BUT the Compensation Law is different. It requires that notice of the injury be provided within 30 day of the accident. This notice can be provided orally or in writing. Keep in mind it is ALWAYS better to submit an accident report in writing.

In fact, generally speaking, it is always better to submit any claims and reports in writing rather than rely on an oral statement. Oral reports have a tendency of encouraging forgetfulness. With a written report, when a supervisor is testifying before a Judge on the accident and claim, there’s no risk of any short-term memory or all out amnesia. More so, a written accident report or letter that describes the incident will hold up better in court than an oral statement. Another benefit of submitting a written report is that it makes it difficult for a supervisor to deny the accident when there is a written document.

Although there are ways around the 30-day rule, there is no guarantee that a Judge will apply one of the exceptions to the case. So always make sure a written report is given.

One important point to keep in mind is if the injured worker does not speak English, then a shop steward may be allowed to give the accident notice on his or her behalf to the employer. However, that shop steward would have to detail in writing a notice to the employer, as well as be prepared to testify in Court the reason notice was given for the injured worker.

To ensure proper procedure is followed and benefits are preserved under the Compensation Law, when a worker is injured he or she should be to submit a report in writing as soon as possible, or if English is not their primary language have a shop steward give a written notice on their behalf. The letter or report should contain a history of the accident, the date of the accident and any possible witnesses to the incident. When appearing before a Judge in Court, this letter/report would establish sufficient evidence that notice was given.

Although Joe missed out on certain union benefits he would have received for his injury if he had filed within 24 hours, he did successfully filed for Workers Compensation under the 30 day notice and he did received benefits.