What do you do when you first have a work injury?

Did you give your employer sufficient notice that you were injured at work? Can you prove it? If not, you may be denied coverage for your work injury.

If your employer carries workers’ compensation what is the first thing that you should do? I see people every week who come in to see me because they are hurt and can’t work and they never filed a workers’ compensation case. This nearly always happens when someone has a general non-specific injury like a back injury or hernia. In Texas, you have 30 days to file a claim but your employer must file a first report of injury the eighth day after your absence from work for more than one day due to the injury or the receipt of notice that you contracted an occupational disease. Texas law states that you must notify your employer of an injury not later than the 30th day after the injury occurs or if the injury is an occupational disease, the date you knew or should have known that your injury may be related to employment. The deadline for you to file with the worker’s compensation division is one year after the injury occurs or if the injury is an occupational disease, you knew or should have known that the injury may be related to employment.This is one of the most, if not the most important task for an injured worker. You should notify your employer of injury as soon as possible. If you don’t, it makes it makes it much more difficult (although not totally impossible) to prove maintain your claim. If you think your injury could be work related, then make the claim. Under Section 451 of the Texas Labor Code it is illegal for your employer to discharge or retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is also illegal in New Mexico to fire a worker who filed a New Mexico workers’ compensation claim.

It is also important to note that under Texas law your employer may not carry workers’ compensation but have its own accident or injury plan. These plans usually have more restrictive deadlines to file a claim than Texas workers’ compensation law. Therefore, it is imperrative that you file a notice of work injury as soon as possible. Don’t just make the claim to your supervisor. Even if your supervisor says he/she will take care of it, don’t be so trusting. Let someone in HR know of your injury and do it in writing, preferably by email copied to yourself so you have proof you filed your claim. We have injured workers come to see us all the time who tell us they told their supervisor but no one else and now their supervisor denies they knew of the injury. Don’t take a chance make your injury claim in writing and in a way that you can prove you made the claim or put your employer on notice!

However, even if you don’t timely file your claim, you might still have a claim for disability discrimination. Under both state and federal law. The main thing is to see a board certified employment lawyer as soon as you find out you are injured. In Texas, you may find out that your employer does not even carry Texas Workers’ Compensation and have their own accident injury plan or no coverage what so ever. You may be able to preserve your claims for your injuries with the help of an employment lawyer.

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