One of the most common questions Springfield Missouri workers' compensation lawyers are asked concerns when to file an official claim with the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation. Injured workers want to know, "Is reporting my injury the same as filing a claim? Is filing a claim always necessary? Is this something I must do immediately to protect my rights?"
Reporting an Injury
First and foremost, what an injured worker must do to protect his/her right to workers' compensation benefits is report the injury immediately to a supervisor or manager/owner of the employer. This report should be made in writing and should advise the employer of how and when you got hurt. Under the workers' compensation law, if an injury is not reported within 30 days, the employer/insurer may have a defense that leads to the injured worker receiving no compensation.
One thing that often trips up injured workers is believing that their injury is minor, and therefore that they will feel better in a day or two and fail to report their injuries. This is particularly prevalent in cases involving back strains and sprains. Sometimes, workers will take vacation days, get out of town, relax, and assume that is all they need to recover.
By the time they realize their work-related injury is not getting any better, or has gotten worse, two or three weeks may have already passed. When these workers finally report the injury to their employer--the employer and insurer look suspiciously at the injury. They might question whether the injury really happened over the weekend, or on vacation, and may use your delay in reporting it to deny benefits.
By not reporting any injury promptly, no matter how minor it seems, you are weakening your Missouri workers' compensation case and causing unnecessary complications. You have nothing to lose by reporting any injury, even a cut to your hand. After all, it might become infected over the weekend, leading to expensive medical treatment. If you do not report it when it happens--how can your employer know that the injury really happened at work and he is indeed liable to pay for your treatment?
Missouri workers' compensation law also requires that occupational disease or repetitive motion injuries be promptly reported as well via written notice. Because these cases don't involve an accident, employees are required to report them no later than 30 days after receiving the diagnosis from a physician. This would apply to injuries and illnesses such as carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis, or mesothelioma.
The necessity of timely reporting an injury cannot be overstressed.