If you have been injured on the job, you have the right to worker’s compensation benefits to help cover medical bills and lost wages. It is important to notify your employer of the injury as soon as possible. Your employer is then responsible for filing a report of your injury to his or her worker’s compensation insurance provider. But what happens if your employer refuses to file a worker’s comp claim?
He or she could be breaking the law, which is why you should consider hiring legal representation. The workers’ compensation system can also be complex and difficult to navigate on your own.
Our attorneys at Sigman Janssen explain what your options are when an employer is not cooperating or deliberately delaying the claim process and what you can do to receive the benefits you are owed.
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When an Employer Does Not Report Your Injury
It is important to stay on top of all reporting deadlines to qualify for worker’s comp benefits. Once notified, an employer is required to report the injury to its insurance carrier within seven days.
If your employer does not report your injury within this period, you may be able to make a claim directly with the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Division. An attorney can help you file a separate claim, handle the paperwork and communicate with your employer’s worker’s comp insurer on your behalf.
Employers who intentionally fail to file a first report of injury could be penalized for bad faith. The penalty for bad faith is up to 200 percent of the benefits denied up to a maximum of $30,000.
The penalty also applies to employers who unreasonably refuse or fail to report a workplace injury to their insurance carrier. Benefits subject to the bad faith penalty may include:
- Medical expenses
- Temporary disability (wage loss)
- Permanent disability
- Vocational rehabilitation
Given the complexity of worker’s comp laws, having an attorney by your side is often advantageous, especially in situations when an employer is dragging its feet on your worker’s comp claim.
Why an Employer May Refuse to File a Worker’s Comp Claim
Sometimes employers think that their insurance premiums will go up if they report a workplace injury. An employer may even try to discourage an injured worker from making a claim.
Other reasons an employer may refuse to file a worker’s comp claim often have to do with the nature of an injury or illness. For instance, occupational diseases, which are caused by exposure over a period of time to a work-related substance, condition or activity, are equally eligible for worker’s comp benefits. However, your employer may argue that your injury is not connected to your employment.
If your workplace injury did not require immediate medical attention or a considerable amount of time off from work, your employer may argue that you were not actually hurt while on the job. Even if an employer acknowledges a workplace injury, he or she may argue that your injury is not serious.
These are just some of the reasons your employer may think they have a valid defense against your claim. An attorney can work hard to dispute any allegations to help get the benefits you need.
What If My Employer Has No Worker’s Comp Insurance?
Wisconsin employers must carry worker’s compensation insurance unless they are self-insured or qualify for an exemption.
Violating the law is a serious offense. If an employer does not have coverage, you generally have one of two options. The first is filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer.
The other option is to utilize the Wisconsin Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF). This fund provides medical care and temporary disability benefits on valid worker’s comp claims filed by injured workers. An attorney can help you file a formal claim with the worker’s compensation court.
Should I Still Seek Medical Treatment Right Away?
It is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Even if your employer is refuting your injury or refusing to file a worker’s comp claim, not seeing a doctor and/or continuing to work when injured will only worsen your injury. Your medical records can help link your injury to your workplace.
If your employer does agree to file your claim, they may require that you go to an independent medical exam in order to qualify for worker’s comp benefits. However, the doctor is chosen by your employer or his or her insurance carrier. You should not agree to this exam if your employer has not filed a claim and without consulting a licensed attorney with experience handling worker’s comp claims.
Learn How an Attorney May Be Able to Help You
Our Appleton worker’s compensation attorneys have years of extensive experience and resources to help secure the benefits you need. If you have suffered an injury or illness in the workplace, reach out to our firm to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We charge zero upfront fees for our services.
Call us today at (877) 888-5201.