I hurt myself on the job, but I’m not sure if the injury is serious or not.  Should I hold off on telling someone until I know how serious the injury is?

The answer is definitely “NO” – report it, report it, report it!

If you’re hurt while working, you have to notify your employer. Even if it feels like you can shake the injury off after a couple days, it’s extremely important to report the initial injury. If you don’t report it and the physical problems don’t go away overnight or over the weekend, it’s a recipe for a big headache.

Each employer can have its own deadline for reporting an on the job injury. The law sets forth specific deadlines, and an employer cannot deny treatment in the long run as long as you have reported an on the job injury.  However, failing to report an accident right away could cause problems. For instance, many employers will require a first report of an accident to occur within 24 hours of the accident.  

Failure to report an accident on time can result in a reprimand or suspension without pay while your employer or its insurance carrier investigates your claim. Depending on your history, this could also result in a termination for failure to follow your employer’s policy.  

If you don’t report an accident on time, it gives the insurance carrier an opportunity to deny your claim.   Then, your private health insurance carrier can deny medical treatment because the injuries are work related. This leaves you stuck in the middle with no coverage for the injury.  

Reporting the accident is the best way to prevent problems in the future.   If you don’t need medical care, then all you did is report what happened and show that you worked through it.   If you need to see a doctor, you’ve prevented one of the most common problems in a workers’ compensation claim right from the start.  

What should you do?  If you’re hurt while working, report the incident to your supervisor and request a copy of the incident report. If you require immediate medical care, you should tell this to your employer.  

You should also familiarize yourself with your employer’s individual reporting requirements. As long as you comply with the worker’s compensation statute and report an accident within 90 days, you are protected. This does not protect you from an initial denial of your claim or disciplinary action by your employer.  

If you didn’t think you needed to see a doctor and the pain becomes unbearable while at home, you can go to the Emergency Room, but make sure to give a thorough description of how you were injured.  Initial emergency room records can be very important when attempting to prove an accident occurred.

Don’t think you’re doing anyone a favor by not mentioning an accident until it’s really a problem, because you’ll only regret it later. Reporting an accident is really a matter of protecting yourself.