Every employee has a right to file a workers’ compensation claim. That’s not to say that every accident will be eligible for workers’ compensation or that an error you make on a form or other clerical error won’t lead to claim denial. However, your employer should not force you to forgo the claim for any reason, even if they believe your situation is not eligible.
Knowing your employment rights is essential when facing a workplace injury. The sooner you act, the better your chances are of still getting workers’ compensation benefits and protecting your job.
When to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
You should talk to a workers’ compensation attorney immediately if your employer is trying to convince you to avoid a workers’ compensation claim. By doing so, your employer might be guilty of negligence and any damages you incur as a result.
Or, if your employer is threatening you with demotion or termination if you file a claim, that’s unlawful retaliation under federal discrimination employment laws.
Immediacy is crucial because Indiana law is very strict about the timelines for reporting a workplace injury. You have 30 days from the date of your workplace injury to file a claim. If you don’t file within that timeline, the insurance company has a right to deny the claim.
Once your employer receives the notification of your claim, they have 7 days to report the claim to their workers’ compensation carrier.
These timelines are strictly enforced as they make it easier for the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board to conduct a full investigation before witness accounts and evidence are more challenging to find and evaluate.
How to Deal with Employer Intimidation
Even if your employer is saying you can just take paid time off to recover, you should file a workers’ compensation claim to protect yourself and your interests. That’s because you likely don’t know at first the extent of your injuries. You could have a long-term or permanent disability that will require more than a few days or weeks away from work.
So if your employer is trying to intimidate you and keep you from filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should take the following actions:
- Go to Human Resources and report your manager’s actions
- Talk to upper management about the problem and report your manager’s behavior
- Document the company’s actions as best as you can by getting things in writing showing that your employer is encouraging you not to file a workers’ compensation claim
- Move forward with filing the claim no matter what your employer is telling you. Protect your rights first and know that if your employer fires you for filing the claim, you have legal grounds for a retaliation lawsuit
- Seek legal representation to handle the situation for you and protect your rights
If things have gotten too far and you’re now outside of the timeline for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you might need to sue your employer for your work-related injury to recover financial damages. You might also have a discrimination or retaliation case against your employer based on the circumstances surrounding your employer’s discouragement of you filing a workers’ compensation claim.
The sooner you pursue legal representation, the better. You don’t want to find yourself in a challenging situation where you don’t know how you’ll pay for your medical bills from your workplace injury or how you’ll make ends meet if you lose employment due to failing to show up to work while you’re healing. Workers’ compensation serves many important purposes and is there to help you recover when you need it.
Schedule a free consultation with Stewart & Stewart to protect your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve after a workplace accident.