The Government Accountability Office (GAO) - a watch-dog or investigative branch of the U.S. government - indicates that individuals injured on the job today are simply ignoring or deciding to forgo reporting their injury or filing a workers' compensation claim. The American Law Journal (ALJ) TV provides some insight behind the GAO's conclusion.
Common Reasons Employees are Reluctant to Report Work Injuries
- Fear of retribution, job loss, loss of incentives: Employees want their employers to see them in a good light. Some fear that if they file a workers' compensation claim, they will lose incentives, or possibly even lose their job. Under Colorado workers' compensation law, however, an employer cannot fire an employee for filing a workers' comp claim. Still, some say employers can still terminate an employee if he or she is unable to return to the job after a certain amount of days, or after Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protection expires.
- Underestimating the injury: Some experts suggest that employees are unwilling to take the time to report a work injury because they think their injury is minor, will get better, and eventually go away. But in many cases - particularly if the employee continues performing the same job duties that caused the injury or condition - the injury will only get worse. Some employees even misdiagnose their own injuries. They may think they simply pulled a muscle, when in reality their injury is something much more serious.
- Lack of knowledge: Many employees may not quite understand the workers' compensation system or their rights under the law. They may not know they can even file a claim or understand the benefits they can receive. In Colorado, an employee injured on the job is entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits that include, for instance, medical treatment, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages.
- Bad economy: In an unstable economy, employees think twice about doing anything to put their job in jeopardy. People don't want to lose their paycheck or lack the ability to sufficiently provide for their family or loved ones. So, they avoid ruffling feathers if they can help it.
The Importance of Filing a Claim
Despite the reluctance, experts argue that failing to file a claim is harmful to both the employee and employer.
According to ALJ TV, the Hartford Insurance Company indicates the cost to employers is 45 percent greater for every claim an employee does not report within the first 30 days of the injury. As for the employee, injuries that go unreported often times end up worse than if treated right away.
If you experienced an injury in the scope of your employment duties and have questions, concerns or fears about filing a workers' compensation claim, speak with an experienced Colorado workers' compensation attorney. Your lawyer will explain your rights under the law and available options for your situation.