Reporting A Work Injury Denver, Colorado, Workers’ Comp Attorney | Video Transcript
Cliff Eley: Hello, my name is Cliff Eley. I’m a workers’ compensation attorney in Colorado. I only represent injured workers and I’ve been doing it for 27 years.
Today I want to talk to you about reporting the accident. Often, cases are won or lost based on whether or not the on-the-job injury was reported in a timely manner. The Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act says that an injured worker needs to report his injury in writing to his employer within four days of the injury. Failure to do so can result in a penalty of one day’s benefits for each day you’re late in reporting.
However, in my experience, this penalty is rarely assessed against an injured worker. If the employer knows you got hurt, the administrative law judge usually doesn’t care if it was put in writing or not. But you still want to report the injury right away. The reason is if the insurance company denies your claim and says it never happened, you’ll have to go to a hearing where you have to prove that you were injured. Some judges have a hard time believing that an injury happened on the job if it isn’t reported until several weeks after it occurred.
I know there are reasons not to tell your boss when you get hurt. You may feel that it’s a temporary injury and that you’ll get better after a night’s sleep, like you have in other cases. But you may have a really high paying job and a strenuous job and you’re worried that if you report an injury you won’t have a job much longer. You should still report the injury to protect yourself.
For example, what if you hurt your back and don’t report it because you think you’ll get better, but instead you get worse to the point where you can’t do the work anymore. Now it’s several weeks later and you tell your boss. He sends you home because you can’t do the work. Your boss tells the insurance company that he didn’t know anything until several weeks after you say you were injured. The insurance company denies your claim. And because it’s denied, you don’t get paid for your lost wages and perhaps you don’t get the medical treatment you need to get better. And you still can’t go back to work.
You can go to a hearing to prove that you got hurt, but that takes several months. And remember, not reporting your injury promptly can hurt at the hearing. If you lose there, what are you going to do? You can’t go back to your old job because of your injuries and you probably can’t get treatment unless you have your own medical insurance.
I know of two cases where men suffered serious back injuries while working on an oil rig. One man didn’t report it until a month went by and he realized he wasn’t going to get better. The other man actually told the boss that he did it riding a bicycle because he didn’t want to hurt the safety record for the rig. The insurance companies denied both claims and they both went to court. And in both cases, the judges ruled against them. In large part, the judge reasoned — the judges reasoned that if they really were hurt, why didn’t they report it right away.
They both were tragic situations. One man didn’t have medical insurance and with his claim denied he couldn’t get the treatment he needed. You may think you’re doing your employer a favor by not reporting your injury, and you know what, you really are. But you aren’t doing yourself any favors by not telling your boss as soon as you’re injured. In fact, you’re putting yourself in a very hazardous position. The best policy is to report the injury when it happened and do it in writing.
If you have any questions about workers’ compensation, please give me a call at 720-759-3064. I’d be happy to address any questions you might have at no charge. Call me for a free consultation.