When you are injured at work, it is not your job to report your injury to your company’s workers’ compensation insurance provider. It is your employer’s job to do this. You are simply required to notify your supervisor of your injury within 30 days of your accident. So what happens if you notify your supervisor, but your employer then refuses to report the injury to the workers’ compensation provider and/or the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Workers’ Compensation Division? You could potentially lose the right to receive coverage through a workers’ compensation claim. If your employer does not fulfill his or her duty to report your claim, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately to make sure you can receive the coverage you are entitled to receive.
When an employer refuses to file a workers’ compensation claim, it is nearly always because the employer is trying to avoid the costs associated with it. For an employer, having an employee collect workers’ compensation can be expensive. Not only does the employer lose a worker, thus losing productivity, but the employer has to pay for the workers’ compensation. But workers’ compensation is a benefit that employees are entitled to enjoy. If you are blocked from enjoying yours in any way, act quickly to find an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can handle your case and help you get the money you need.
If your Employer Attempts to Deny your Claim
Your employer might attempt to avoid having to file your workers’ compensation claim by denying that an accident occurred or that you were hurt while performing your job. An employer might fail to document the accident that led to your injury or lie to the workers’ compensation provider about what actually happened. Your employer might also attempt to convince you that you caused your own injury through your own negligent behavior or that you are not qualified to recover workers’ compensation because of your employment status.
Do not believe your employer’s lies. Workers’ compensation claims are “no fault” claims, which means that your level of negligence when your accident occurred has no bearing on your ability to receive benefits. You are also entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim even if you are a new employee, a part time employee, or if you are not a citizen of the United States. The only types of worker who cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits are independent contractors, domestic workers, and certain categories of agricultural workers. Even undocumented workers can receive benefits through their employers’ workers’ compensation policies. If your employer tells you that you cannot seek workers’ compensation for your injury, confirm this with a workers’ compensation attorney.
If your Employer Attempts to Avoid Filing your Claim
Avoiding filing a workers’ compensation claim is within the same vein as denying a claim, but instead of outright acting as if the accident did not happen, the employer attempts to “make it go away.” Some examples of ways an employer might attempt to avoid filing an employee’s workers’ compensation claim include:
- Lying to an employee about having filed the claim. This is an especially egregious way to avoid filing a claim because in many cases, the employee does not know that the employer did not actually file the claim until it is too late to do so;
- Attempting to prove that the employee is not really hurt by photographing him or her doing physical activities, sending him or her back to work immediately after the accident to use as proof that he or she can work, or attempting to get a recorded statement from the employee attesting that he or she is able to work;
- Telling the employee to use his or her healthcare insurance, rather than workers’ compensation to cover his or her medical needs;
- Giving the employee his or her regular pay while the employee takes time off; and
- Threatening employees with termination or other types of discipline to keep them from filing workers’ compensation claims.
Although some of these scenarios sound like they can actually be beneficial to the employee, such as the employer continuing to pay him or her his or her regular wage in exchange for not filing a workers’ compensation claim, all of them actually harm the employee. By not filing a workers’ compensation claim, the employee remains limited to what his or her employer is willing to pay or what he or she can afford out of pocket. Medical expenses can quickly add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Do not allow yourself to be swindled out of this money by your employer.
If your Employer Terminates you Because of your Claim
This is an example of wrongful termination. It is illegal for a company to fire or layoff an individual for filing a workers’ compensation claim after he or she is injured on the job. If you have been a victim of wrongful termination, you could have grounds to file a retaliation claim against your employer.
Generally, an employee cannot sue his or her employer for injuries sustained on the job. But he or she can sue the employer for wrongfully terminating him or her. There are also certain circumstances under which an employee may sue an employer following an injury, such as cases where the employer violated the law by not carrying workers’ compensation insurance despite being required to. Talk to your attorney about whether your case falls into one of these circumstances and if so, how to proceed with your claim.