As a New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer, the serious and severe workplace injuries receive the majority of time and attention in this blog. We discuss how to handle the medical costs associated with a workplace injury and what happens when your employer refuses to cover an expensive claim. However, minor injuries shouldn’t fly under the radar.
It’s important for workers in New Jersey to understand how to handle minor injuries. These injuries are subject to the same rule and regulations as a very serious injury and also entitled to the same recovery from New Jersey workers’ compensation insurance. Here are a few tips for handling a minor injury in the workplace.
Report All Workplace Injuries to Your Employer
Did you know that nearly half of all workplace injuries go unreported in the United States? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that nearly half of all serious injuries are unreported and very few workers inform their employers of minor injuries. Even in industries where the number of workplace injuries is high, a substantial number of minor injuries go unreported.
Not telling your employer about a minor injury is problematic. First, you must inform an employer of an injury to initiate the insurance and healthcare process. Whether you visit the emergency room or later require additional care for an injury, you can’t recover the medical costs without telling your employer about the injury.
Second, you are required to inform your employer of an injury within a specified amount of time. As recommended by the New Jersey Department of Worker’ Compensation, you should report an injury within 15 days. As well, you can’t depend on New Jersey workers’ compensation if you wait more than 90 days to tell your employer or human resources about an injury.
For both of these reasons, you should report all workplace injuries immediately.
Be Prepared for a Minor Injury to Get Worse
Reporting any and all workplace injuries is important because what appears to be a minor, short-term injury could get worse. For example, what if a cut on your hand or arm is exposed to dirt while you are at work. This exposure could lead to an infection, which requires far more medical care and expensive treatment than the original cut.
While infections are treatable and largely preventable through proper care, there are other workplace injuries that can unexpectedly become more serious or severe. Frequently, these workplace injuries are muscular.
Here’s a typical situation that can lead to these types of back, shoulder, and neck injuries. You work in hospitality and are required to carry heavy cases of beer from the basement storage to the bar upstairs. You do this several time a day, and after a few years at the job, you tweak your back carrying up a heavy case. The injury bothers you for a couple of days, but the next week, it feels better. You decide against reporting the injury or going to physical therapy.
You go back to carrying the cases of beer and don’t have any problems for a few weeks. However, three weeks later you are moving furniture at home and feel intense pain in the same location as your earlier back injury. It is really difficult in this situation to connect the source of your pain and the original injury to the workplace – making it just as complicated to file for workers’ compensation in New Jersey for this injury.
Discuss Workers’ Compensation Delays and Refusals with a Lawyer
When an employer or insurance provider refuses to cover the costs of a minor workplace injury, many people walk away. However, these workplace injuries are entitled to the same coverage by New Jersey workers’ compensation as a more substantial injury. You deserve to recover the cost of a doctor’s visit, physical therapy, and even emergency medical care. An employer or insurance provider shouldn’t refuse the appropriate coverage, even if these costs are limited.
You can discuss a purposeful delay or refusal by an employer to cover a minor injury with a lawyer. Therefore, if you are uncertain about the need for filing a claim or your options after a minor injury, the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone can help. We offer a free and confidential initial consultation to any and all new clients that you can take advantage of today. Contact us by calling (856) 234-4023.