Do you have to report a work accident immediately after it happens in New Jersey? Technically, no – however, the longer you wait to report the incident, the more likely the claim will be denied.
Even if you don’t require immediate medical treatment, report any accidents and injuries that occur at work to your supervisor. It’s never a good idea to take a wait and see approach. If, for example, you have a lifting injury on a Friday, but decide to wait and see if the pain goes away over the weekend, by the time you return to work on Monday the insurance carrier can claim the injury occurred at home over the weekend. Failing to report an on the job injury can be disastrous. You cannot receive treatment for a work related injury through your private health insurance, so if the workers’ compensation carrier denies your claim because you waited to report it, you will have difficulty obtaining medical treatment.
I recommend that you obtain a written incident report and make sure it includes the name of the person you reported the accident to. Once you report the accident, you have two (2) years to file a formal workers’ compensation claim from either the date of the accident or the last date of workers’ compensation benefits paid by your employer, whichever is later. Reporting the accident properly will buy you a lot of time to see if an injury goes away or not.
If you seek emergency room treatment after hours as a result of an on the job injury, make sure to give an accurate description as to how you were hurt. Emergency room records can be very helpful in proving that an injury is work related, however, if the records say you were injured at home or there was ‘no specific trauma’, this raises a red flag to the carrier and eventually the Judge.
While the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation statute allows 14 days to report an accident, and in some cases up to 90 days, your employer can have policies that result in reprimands or discipline if you fail to report an accident on time. This doesn’t mean that treatment will be denied in the long run, but you should be aware of specific policies that your employer has with regards to incident reporting.
If you require assistance obtaining treatment or would like to discuss a potential workers’ compensation claim, please contact me with any questions or call to schedule a free consultation.
James Creegan is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office concentrating his practice in Workers’ Compensation law. For questions, or to schedule a free consultaiton with Mr. Creegan, please contact him here.