It is a familiar story. An injured worker calls my office. He tells me he was hurt on the job and that he told his supervisor about the injury. Now, weeks or months later, the workers’ compensation carrier won’t provide medical care. When he asks why, the insurance company tells him that he never reported the injury.
Alabama’s workers’ compensation law says that you must provide written notice of your accident to your employer. Our law also places time limits on that notice. While the Workers’ Compensation Act specifically requires written notice of the accident, our courts have ruled that “actual” notice is OK. What does this mean? It means that just telling your boss can be OK. However, it can also create problems for you.
Just telling your boss is a bad idea. Why? Supervisors often “forget” later that you told them of the accident. Maybe your boss really did forget. Maybe he just wants to save money by ignoring the claim. Recently, a safety manager in Alabama was criminally convicted for providing misleading information concerning prior accidents. I can tell you that this happens frequently. If your boss “forgets” that you reported the injury, proving that you told him is not impossible but it can be very difficult. This issue often results in claims that are lost.
You should immediately report any work-related accident and injury. Alabama even has a specific form that your employer should complete. You should insist that it be completed. If your boss does not do that, then you should put the event in writing yourself and make sure your employer gets it immediately.
by Jeff Blackwell