What are the factors that impact employee deadlines for reporting an injury or illness, and how they affect the workers’ compensation claim?

By Tracey Berg, President, Cerity

When employees are injured on the job, their employers often wonder: How did this happen? Who else was affected? Can we prevent this in the future?

With so much going on, it’s easy to neglect the crucial question that arises the moment the incident happens: How long does an employee have to report an injury? Below, we discuss the factors that impact employee deadlines for reporting an injury or illness, and how they affect the workers’ compensation claim process.

What Determines the Deadline to Report a Workplace Injury?

Every incident in which an employee is harmed at work is different. So, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to how long employees need to make a report after a workplace injury.

However, because workers’ compensation cases involve the legal system and insurance providers, it is necessary to have guidelines in place for response to situations where employees are harmed. Such procedures include when and how employees should report workplace injuries. The following factors determine the deadlines that apply to an injured employee:

  • State. All US states and territories have statutes and administrative rules that outline the procedures for workers’ compensation processes. These laws include how soon an incident needs to be reported and how long an injured employee or surviving dependent has to make a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Type of injury or illness. If an employee develops a condition from repetitive stress or exposure to hazardous material while on the job, the timeline to report may be different from that of a one-time incident.
  • Seriousness of injury. Should an injury lead to disability or death, the timeframe for the employee or surviving dependent to report the injury or make a workers’ compensation claim may also be different.
  • Employer error or oversight. When employers do not follow statutory timelines or procedures, such as providing or posting workers’ compensation information at the job site, the amount of time their employees have to file a report of injury or workers’ compensation claim may be extended.

When Should an Employee Report an Injury?

Injured employees should make a report to their employers immediately. Even though there are different timelines for each state, many state policies require that reports to employers be made as soon as possible. In cases of occupational injuries or diseases, notice should be given to employers soon after symptoms or diagnosis.

It’s also important to note that the report procedure may require written notice, specific wording, or a particular form. There may be certain entities, like HR or the injured employee’s supervisor, who must receive the notice. In some states, an additional notice of injury must also be reported to state workers’ compensation officials.

In cases of severe injury or death, another party, such as a family member, may need to give notice of injury on behalf of the employee.

Does Reporting a Workplace Injury Open a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

Not necessarily. It’s important to note that the deadlines for employees to report an injury and to make a workers’ compensation claim are different. In most cases, an employee has a larger window of time to file a claim than to report an injury.

However, in order to make a workers’ compensation claim, an employee must be able to show that the employer received the appropriate amount of notice for the work-related injury. If an employee does not file a claim following an injury, it’s important to keep documentation of the incident in case of future complications or worsening of the condition caused by the injury.

tracey berg cerity
Tracey Berg

Tracey Berg is the president of Cerity, a workers’ compensation insurance provider founded with a bold vision to reimagine small business insurance. With its digital-first approach, Cerity is transforming the entire process to empower business owners to quickly and easily protect their team, their assets and their livelihood through an online workers’ compensation solution. Follow Tracey on Twitter at Tracey_L_B. For information about Cerity, go to: https://cerity.com/