Being injured at work can be frightening. Many workers hesitate to report workplace injuries for fear of losing their jobs. Other workers might fear demotions or other retaliation for reporting a job injury.

Understanding what to do after a workplace accident can help you avoid the common mistakes many workers make. Some mistakes could significantly decrease the amount of a potential settlement. Other mistakes could result in losing your workers’ compensation benefits. 

1.  Failing to Report the Job Injury

The biggest mistake most people make when they are injured on the job is failing to report the accident and injury to their employer. Workers’ compensation laws in California require a worker to report injuries within 30 days of the injury. Failing to report a job injury promptly could result in the loss of workers’ compensation benefits. 

If you require emergency medical attention, call 911 or go to the emergency room. Make sure that you tell the staff and the doctor that the injury occurred at work. If you can do so, notify your employer that you are in the emergency room and ask for further instructions. 

Report injuries at work regardless of the severity of the injury. Do not assume that you will feel better later or that your employer will fire you for being injured. The law protects you from wrongful termination related to a workers’ compensation claim.

2.  Failing to Report the Extent of Your Injuries

You never want to exaggerate your symptoms, but you always want to report the full extent of your injuries. Failing to tell the doctor about all your symptoms could negatively impact your health and your workers’ compensation claim.

Secondary injuries are common in workplace accidents. For example, a worker might sustain a severe head injury because of a slip and fall accident. However, the worker might also injure his back or neck because of the fall.

It is essential to report all injuries and symptoms as soon as possible. Waiting to disclose injuries or pain until later might appear as if you are trying to increase the value of a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

Ensure that you tell your doctor whenever you experience symptoms, even if you do not believe the symptoms are severe or related to your injury. Symptoms such as fevers, body aches, impaired vision, nausea, loss of motor functions, and ringing in the ears could be symptoms of a head injury. They could also be symptoms of another injury.

During your treatment, keep a list of your symptoms and a list of questions to ask your physicians. Understanding your treatment can help you understand more about your workplace injuries and prognosis for recovery.

3.  Failing to Disclose Previous Work Injuries

Another common mistake employees make is failing to report prior work injuries. Regardless of the severity of the injury, failing to disclose a previous injury could result in your current claim being denied. You could be required to repay any workers’ compensation benefits paid to date for the current claim in some cases.

When you complete medical forms, make sure that you are honest and truthful about all past injuries at work, even if they did not have anything to do with your current injury. By disclosing the information, you avoid being accused of hiding a pre-existing condition.

4.  Refusing to Work When Released to Work

Your doctor will discuss your work status with you. The doctor explains your injury and your ability to perform work duties. Your doctor might release you to light-duty, meaning you can perform some work functions but not all work functions.

If you are released for light-duty, you are obligated to attempt to return to work. If the duties are beyond what you are able to perform, inform your employer and your doctor immediately. Your doctor needs to re-evaluate your physical capabilities. 

5.  Failing to Seek Legal Advice About a Work Injury

When you are injured at work, you have the right to consult with an attorney. Many workers believe they can represent themselves in a workers’ compensation claim. However, that can be a huge mistake.

Your employer and its insurance company have legal counsel. They have a legal team working to protect their best interest. In many cases, their best interests are adversarial to your best interests. 

You need an attorney who will work for your best interests. Workers’ compensation claims, especially appealing a denial, can be complicated. Hiring an attorney can be one of the best ways to ensure you receive the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.