Delayed Discovery of a Workplace Injury: Your Next Steps
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Delayed Discovery of a Workplace Injury: Your Next Steps

If you just learned that you have an injury caused by your job, but the medical issue started a long time ago and you never told your employer, your next steps may seem unclear. Should you report the injury right now? Should you deal with it on your own? Can you receive workers’ compensation benefits? All of these questions may be running through your mind.

The truth is, many employees belatedly discover that they were injured at work. Often this happens because they have repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or lower back pain. Once a worker asks his doctor about the problem, the doctor could tell the worker that the injury probably began months or years ago. The worker even could have held a different job then. The doctor also could tell the worker that an injury in his personal time got worse because of work activities.

As soon as you learn that you have or might have an injury stemming from your employment, alert your employer. You have, in most cases, a maximum of 180 days to report your injury after it occurs. Often the time to report is shorter depending on the circumstances. Do not delay a week or even a few days if your injury began a long time ago.

Again, delayed discovery of workplace injuries is very common. Insurance companies usually scrutinize delayed discovery claims very closely, however, because they often suspect that workers are making up or exaggerating their injuries. Your doctor’s careful documentation of your injury and any supporting information you can provide will help rebut the insurance company’s skepticism.

If you suspect that your employer misled you about the potential for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you still can seek benefits at a later date. For example, some employers ask their employees not to report minor injuries by saying that workers’ comp will not cover them, misleading the employees in an effort to save money on their insurance. In truth, even minor work-related injuries may be compensable – even if the only benefit needed is the cost of antibiotics or a few stitches.

If you believed that you were not eligible for benefits at the time of your injury, you can still seek benefits at a later date. For example, your employer may have been paying you as an independent contractor. You might find out later that you were misclassified and should have been an employee. As an employee, you qualified for workers’ compensation benefits. You can make a claim now for the benefits you should have received then.

Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.