Reporting Injuries And Workers’ Compensation Requirements
Nobody goes to work expecting to suffer a serious injury that will require medical care and will result in a disability and missed workdays. However, workplace accidents and injuries happen with some frequency in South Florida and throughout the country. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were nearly 1.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries in 2020 that required treatment in emergency departments, and almost 20 percent of those injuries resulted in missed workdays. Most often, nonfatal work injuries that require immediate medical care involve “contact with objects and equipment, overexertion and bodily reaction, and falls, slips and trips without a fall,” according to the CDC.
When one of these workplace injuries happens, what do you need to do in order to report it accurately and in a timely manner? Requirements for workplace injury reporting for purposes of workers’ compensation claims are outlined in the Florida Statutes, and one of our experienced Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you.
You Must Report Your Traumatic Injury Within 30 Days of the Date of Injury
If you recently suffered a traumatic injury at work as a result of an accident, Florida workers’ compensation law requires you to report your work-related accident to your employer within 30 days from the date of the accident that caused your injury. You should report the injury as soon as possible, but it must be reported within 30 days from the date of the accident. If you did not immediately know you had an injury, then you typically have 30 days from the date that your doctor diagnosed the injury to report it to your employer.
When you report a traumatic injury to your employer, you should also ask your employer about the approved health care providers you can see for treatment. If your traumatic injury is an emergency and you must seek medical care before reporting the injury to your employer, you can go to the nearest emergency department. However, for any follow-up medical care, you will need to see a doctor that has been authorized by your employer or by the insurance company.
Reporting Requirements for Occupational Disease Claims
What are your reporting obligations as an injured employee if you have been diagnosed with an occupational disease? First, you should know that Florida law defines an occupational disease as a “disease which is due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment, and to exclude all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is exposed, unless the incidence of the disease is substantially higher in the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment than for the general public.”
Occupational disease claims also have a 30-day reporting requirement, and the clock usually starts ticking on the date that your doctor diagnoses your occupational disease.
Limited Exceptions to the Reporting Timeline
There are limited exceptions to the 30-day reported requirement. In general, failure to report the injury within 30 days will bar an employee from workers’ compensation benefits unless one of the following statutory exceptions applies:
- Employer or the employer’s agent had actual knowledge of the injury;
- Cause of the injury could not be identified without a medical opinion and the employee advised the employer within 30 days after obtaining a medical opinion indicating that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment;
- Employer did not put its employees on notice of the requirements; or
- Exceptional circumstances.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have questions about reporting your injury and seeking benefits, you should contact a Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. for assistance.