Reporting work injuries is a critical first step on the path to receiving workers’ compensation benefits or pursuing third party liability for work-related injuries. Although Ohio doesn’t have a specific deadline for reporting work injuries to your employer, prompt reporting is important for several reasons.
Pitfalls in Delayed Reporting of Work Injuries
Many workers refrain from reporting or delay reporting work injuries. Sometimes injuries aren’t reported because they don’t seem serious, because the employee is worried about how the employer may respond, or simply because the employee doesn’t want to go through the hassle of filling out a report and potentially being required to seek medical attention. Whatever the reason, delayed reporting can backfire.
Advantages of Reporting Work Injuries Promptly
Reporting work injuries promptly is to your advantage because:
- Immediate reporting allows for better documentation, including exactly when and how the injury occurred, what you were doing at the time, who may have witnessed the accident, inspection for possible causes and more.
- Delayed reporting may make it difficult to prove that your injury occurred at work, and your employer may disbelieve you or may try to use the fact that the injury wasn’t immediately reported to fight a workers’ compensation claim.
- Immediate reporting gets the ball rolling on workers’ compensation claims right away, meaning that you may have quicker access to medical care and other benefits through workers’ compensation.
- Delayed reporting, particularly if it’s coupled with delayed medical assessment and treatment, may raise questions as to the extent to which the injury is attributable to the on-the-job incident versus later aggravation or failure to treat appropriately.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the extent of an injury isn’t always immediately clear.
Injuries like hairline fractures, concussions, severed tendons, and others may initially appear as just a bump on the head, bruise, or a simple cut. Later, when it becomes clear that the injury isn’t healing as anticipated or is causing more serious symptoms, the optimal time for reporting has passed.
Limitations Period for Workers’ Compensation Claims
Unlike personal injury claims, which typically have a two-year statute of limitations, injury-based Ohio workers’ compensation claims must be filed within one year of the injury-causing event.
Of course, it’s in the injured workers’ best interest to act sooner, since delaying until near the deadline delays benefits and may complicate medical treatment (which may, in turn, lead to complications with evidence).
Requirements for reporting of occupational disease and deadlines to file claims are more complicated, since the effects of chemical exposure and other workplace toxins may develop long after the exposure took place. Though the statute of limitations for these claims remains two years, the starting point of that two-year period may not be easily identified. Thus, it is best for anyone who believes his or her illness resulted from occupational exposure to contact an Ohio worker’s compensation attorney as soon as possible.
After an Ohio Work Injury
Reporting a work injury as soon as possible after the incident is the first step. It’s also important to seek medical care promptly if needed and to follow the doctor’s instructions and follow up as directed.
Once you’ve reported the injury to your employer, you should be provided with a form to initiate a workers’ compensation claim. You can also access forms on the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) website.
Consider Speaking With a Workers Compensation Attorney
If your injury is serious or you anticipate significant time off work, you should consider speaking with a workers’ compensation attorney as early in the process as possible. Although the workers’ compensation system was intended to ensure that injured workers had access to compensation without having to litigate with employers, it is not uncommon to encounter misinformation, delays, and even unjust denial of claims.
The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation