Why it is important to report your work injuries to your employer?
Illinois law requires that you report any workers’ compensation injuries within 45 days of the accident occurring. This requirement is necessary regardless of the severity of your injury and regardless of what part of the body that you have injured. It is important that you notify your employer of any type of injury so that if you need to obtain medical treatment at any point either immediately or in the future you have already taken care of one of the requirements that you need in order to obtain benefits under the Illinois workers’ compensation system.
The notice requirement is a bright line test in Illinois and if you have not reported your accident or injury within 45 days this can be used as a basis for complete denial of your claim under Illinois law, regardless of the circumstances surrounding your accident or the reason why you did not report your accident within that time frame.
While Illinois law does not require that you fill out a written accident report in order for your notice of injury to be valid, we would suggest that this is the preferred method to handle your reporting of accidents. That way there is no gray area if this issue were to come up in the future. We would also suggest that you that you turn in one copy of your accident report to your employer and keep one copy for yourself so that your accident report does not go mysteriously missing if you should bring a case in the future. By filling out a written accident report you also avoid a situation where your employer claims that you never told them verbally about your injury and you claim that you did, thereby avoiding a “he said she said” type situation which can lead to additional delay and denials associated with your claim. The accident report form that is generated by the State of Illinois can be found at http://www.iwcc.il.gov/ic45FORM.pdf
Please remember that not all employers or bosses are honest people and generally they are not looking out for you and your best interest. It very well may be in a position where they may forget talking to you or may be under pressure from your employer to conveniently forget speaking with you or simply outright lie about the circumstances of you reporting your injury.
It’s very important to remember that a lot of employers have a very negative viewpoint of Workers’ Compensation injuries and in a lot of situations will do anything they can to try to avoid their employees from making workers compensation claims.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to protect yourself and fill out written accident reports regarding any injury however seemingly insignificant they may be at the time of the injury. It doesn’t cost anything but provide your employer with an accident and it may end up saving you in the future if an injury continues to nag and bother you for an extended time frame in the future.