Workers’ Compensation is a great system that provides benefits and payments to workers who become injured while on the job. Unfortunately, some workers fail to report their injuries because they don’t want to miss work, they fear there will be repercussions, or for other related reasons. Not only are employees putting themselves at risk for further injury if the continue to work, but they could be endangering the lives of others if they cannot preform all the necessary duties because of their condition.
We can’t stress how important it is to report an injury as soon as it occurs, but we understand why some people are hesitant to do it. Below, you can see some of the common reasons why people fail to report their work injury in a timely manner.
1. They think the injury isn’t a big deal – Minnesotans are tough. Many of us have bills to pay and families to provide for. The prospect of missing out on a paycheck because of an injury can seem scary, so they trudge on ahead, sacrificing their physical comfort to provide for their family.
Also, maybe the individual thinks it’s only a minor injury and it will heal overnight or over the weekend. They don’t want to pester their manager or boss over an injury if it heals in just a few days. Sometimes a person’s pride gets in the way of reporting the injury, or they are simply overly optimistic that the injury is “no big deal.” They want to be seen as a great employee, but they should remember that even great employees suffer injuries on the job.
2. It’s a Gillette injury – A Gillette injury, also known as cumulative trauma, occurs when a person is subjected to repeated stress over time. For example, a warehouse worker who routinely lifts heavy objects might leave work with a sore back. His pain may alleviate each night, but if he holds the job for 20 years he might slowly be doing damage to the nerves and vertebrae in his back. Maybe he goes home with what he believes is routine soreness, but the pain lingers for a few days. It might take the worker a week or so to realize that he needs medical attention, and that he should file a workers’ compensation claim.
3. They are afraid of losing their job – Unfortunately, this reason is far too common in the workplace. An employer cannot fire an employee simply because they got injured on the job. Some people think they might get too far behind on their duties if they are gone for too long, or they fear being replaced by a new hire.
The prospect of losing their job, their source of income, is a big reason why people neglect to file a workers’ compensation claim. The economy is tough, and trying to find a new job while recovering from an injury would be difficult. Also, many employees like their job. Not only are they afraid they’ll be fired for missing work with an injury, but they fear the stigma of being the employee with the work comp claim. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed or scared to collect benefits you’re entitled to receive.
4. They don’t know it is a compensable injury – Some people believe that they are only eligible for workers’ compensation if they suffer their injury while on the clock, but that isn’t always true. There are some exceptions, for example, if you are a traveling employee (your work requires you to travel, or go between several locations) you may be covered from the time you leave your house to the time you get home. You are also covered for ingress and egress of your employer’s premises, which would include injuries that take place in the parking lot, getting out of your car, or walking into the building.
Other times people don’t believe the injury is compensable because it was their fault. As long as they weren’t acting negligently or recklessly, they can be compensated, even if their mistake led to the injury.
Lastly, some workers believe the injury was caused by something other than work. If you aggravate a previous injury at work, even if the initial injury occurred outside of the workplace, you may still be eligible for compensation.
5. They don’t even realize they are hurt – Sometimes pain doesn’t set in until much later. For example, symptoms of a concussion can linger for years, even if a person doesn’t feel pain right away. If you begin to notice symptoms likely caused by a previous injury, you seriously consider filing for workers’ compensation.