No work injury happened.
These workers compensation claim defenses comes up when the worker says he or she was injured in a single, traumatic incident at work, for example lifting a piece of machinery or twisting to move a manufactured item. The defense is raised when the employee fails to timely report the incident at work but then brings it up weeks, months or years later. The mistake made by the employee is not reporting the injury when it happened and/or not going to a doctor immediately and explaining how the injury happened at work. Now some employees do not want to report an injury or make a workers comp claim every time they get hurt. That’s their decision. But remember if you change your mind and want to relate an injury to something that happened at work it will be much more difficult to do down the road if it was not documented at the time.
Medical records do not say anything about a work injury.
Similar to not reporting an injury at work when it happened, is the mistake of either not going to a doctor immediately or going to the doctor but not explaining how the injury happened at work. Understandably, most people do not run to the doctor with every bump or bruise, especially if you work in a physical job. But if its serious enough to report at work or significantly impact one’s life, most insurers and judges are inclined to think there would be a contemporaneous doctor’s visit to check it out. Also, if one goes to the doctor after say injuring her low back at work, they better explain how it happened at work in as much detail as possible. This will provide a factual basis for the insurance company, judge and your doctor to come to the conclusion the injury is work-related.
This reporting of the injury to the doctors is also important in cases where there is no single, traumatic work accident, but the employee believes his job duties over time contributed to his back pain. In these cases, every time the injured worker goes to the doctor, specialist or therapist, he should clearly explain, especially at the initial visit, exactly what his job’s physical duties are and what is it about them that causes his back pain. The mistake employees make is not relating the job duties to the back pain or not going into enough detail.
We do not give prospective legal advice and every case is different. This discussion is based on 35 years of experience in representing injured workers in Wisconsin workers compensation cases. McCormick Law Office, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.