The incident or injury report is one of the most powerful pieces of evidence in any workplace injury case. Why? Typically, juries will place heavy emphasis on the initial incident report, as it is the first piece of evidence that an injury took place. The company's lawyers will attempt to use an injury report to limit an injured worker's claim to only those injuries initially included on the report. On the other hand, we use the injury report to show that the injured employee was hurt during the course of his or her work.
While the accident or injury report isn’t the only piece of documentation that will be important to a claim for work injuries, it is usually the first record of what happened in an accident. What this means to you, as a worker, is that you must protect yourself above all else when you are injured at work. If you get hurt at work, you must insist that an injury or incident report be filled out.
In these types of cases, companies sometimes use the lack of reporting by the injured employee as a defense to not paying for injuries or the medical bills resulting from the injuries. Whether the company has workers’ compensation insurance or not, the injury and details about the incident should always be reported.
What to Include When You Fill Out an Accident Report at Work
First of all, if you are hurt at work, contact your general manager or immediate supervisor immediately and let him or her know that you were injured at work. However, while simply making sure you report an injury is key, what you include on the accident report is also very important. On this report, you must be very specific because every detail you leave out can and will be used against you by the company's lawyer if you later choose to file a lawsuit. This means that you should be very care to include details about:
- Exactly how and when the injury took place
- Every issue you are having with your body after an injury
- The specific parts of your body that are injured—do not omit anything, no matter how small.
Finally, if you begin to feel pain in additional parts of your body, go back and report these as well. Many times, when an employee suffers a workplace injury, they have some immediate pains such as cuts or burns that might overshadow deeper, more serious problems. Additionally, the initial shock of suffering an injury can mask deeper injuries.
Be sure to insist on being given a copy of the injury report with your signature on it. Only sign the injury report if you agree 100% with everything on the report. If you disagree with anything, do not sign the report and contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to request in writing that you want to see a doctor.
You May Have a Limited Time to Report an Accident and Pursue a Work Injury Claim
Any delay in reporting an accident or injury could be used against you later, so you should always make a report as soon as possible. However, beyond that, there are many other deadlines that could affect your accident case, and the length of time you have to report an injury or file a work injury claim can depend on what you are seeking from your employer:
- Workers' compensation claim. Workers’ compensation provides employees with income and medical benefits if they are injured on the job. You must report your injury to your employer within 30 days from the date of the injury, or 30 days from the date you became aware of your work-related illness. If you miss this deadline, you may be denied benefits.
- Work injury lawsuit. Private employers in Texas can choose whether or not they want to provide workers’ compensation to their employees. If your employer is not covered by worker’s compensation, you may wish to pursue a work injury case to hold them liable for your injury costs. The statute of limitations on these cases is two years, so you must file within two years of your accident date.
What to Do If a Supervisor or Company Representative Won’t Allow You to Report an Injury
Sometimes a supervisor or company representative will make it difficult or impossible to fully report your injuries. Either they will pressure you to leave something out, pressure you not to formally report the injury, or try to re-word what happened to make the company look better. When this happens, you must understand that the fight between you and the company has already begun.
You need to make sure that you request an accident or incident report be completed, or fill one out yourself if the manager or supervisor refuses to do the report. If the manager refuses to provide you with a company incident report, write on a piece of paper what happened and include all details, including any witnesses and the date and time of injury. Send the report to the corporate office if your immediate higher-ups are not cooperating or providing you with the necessary assistance.
If a supervisor or company representative wants to change or omit something on an accident report, that lets you know the company is already planning to use the report against you. If your supervisor or a company rep is trying to change your report, you need to contact a lawyer at that point.
Hiring an Attorney Protects Your Rights and Stops the Harassment When Companies Won’t Play Fair
You want to do the right thing after you get hurt. Unfortunately, companies won’t always play fair. It’s not unusual for harassment, intimidation, threats, and misdirection to ramp up for an injured worker:
- When an accident occurs
- When an injury is reported
- When a worker decides to pursue a work injury claim
- When a worker hires an attorney regarding the accident or injury
So how can you do the right thing for yourself and your family if it seems like you just get punished or could lose your job for doing so? Ultimately, you should rest assured that it is against the law for employers to harass or threaten you for reporting an injury or pursuing your rights under the law—and companies could be in big trouble if they do.
However, the unfortunate reality is that employers and insurance companies do take advantage of workers who don’t understand their rights, and some do try to intimidate them into giving up their claims. Many injured workers end up needing a skilled attorney to help protect them from illegal actions and dirty tricks from these huge companies.
Take the initiative to start learning more about your rights today. At VB Attorneys, we don’t believe that workers should be denied funds that they are rightfully owed after they have suffered an injury at work. Our experienced Texas injury attorneys can help you get you the income you need and the settlement you deserve. For more information, you can reach out to us today at 1-877-724-7800.