April 1, 2020

What Should You Do if Your Employer Ignores Your Work Injury Claim?

What should you do if your employer takes no action whatsoever after you report a work injury?

Believe it or not, I see this situation frequently.  I get calls every week from injured workers who say “Jodi, I hurt my back at work and I reported the injury to my supervisor but nothing is happening.  Every time I tell my boss that my back is killing me, he says that they are ‘working on’ my claim.  Several weeks have gone by and I don’t know what to do.”

I think that in many ways, being ignored is worse than being denied.  At least you know where you stand if your employer controverts your claim even if your work injury claim is legitimate.

But having your on-the-job injury claim ignored is not acceptable either.  First, you can’t be sure that your employer has reported your claim to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.  If your claim is never officially reported (within one year of your injury) you can lose all of your rights.

Second, Georgia law says that you have 30 days to report your work injury claim to your employer.  If they are doing nothing, they may very well claim that you never reported your injury.  This is why I always advise my clients to report their injuries in writing and to ask for a written confirmation of the report.

Third, the passage of time with nothing happening will hurt your case. If your employer is giving you the runaround, you should read that as a negative.  They are not going to cooperate and they will use any delay as evidence that you really did not get hurt.  I have talked to enough company owners (both large and small) in social settings to be able to tell you that most business owners believe that 90% of workers’ compensation cases are fraudulent and that claimants exaggerate their injuries.

Perhaps your employer was burned by a bogus claim.  But that does not give him or her the right to wrongfully delay or deny your valid claim.

As I note in the video I attached to this blog post inaction on the part of your employer or HR department following a work injury should be seen as a big red flag.  You should not suffer the medical consequences of an untreated injury or bear the financial burden of unemployment without compensation because your employer does not want to report your work injury to its insurance carrier and pay higher premiums.

If you have not been hurt at work before you may not know about the usual time frame in a Georgia work injury case.  Immediately after you report your injury, your employer is supposed to assist you in going to a doctor on the posted panel of physicians that they are supposed to have in a common area like a break room.  Delay in treatment goes contrary to the purpose of the law, which is to get you the treatment you need to return to work, if possible.

Delays of more than a few days are not normal and if you are not hearing anything, that should be a signal to you to pick up the phone and call a lawyer for advice.

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