ANSWER: ALWAYS REPORT AN INJURY IN WRITING
Joe was working a construction job when Mike accidentally beaned Joe on the head with a 2X4. After seeing a couple of Tweety Birds and a whole bunch of stars, Joe went down to his supervisor’s station and told him he had just had an accident. Then he went off to the ER to make sure he was not seriously injured, relieved he had taken care of business at the job site. All he had to do now was get better.
No, Joe! No!
Yes, Joe satisfied the notice requirement. However, Joe was NOT good to go.
Supervisors sometimes have a funny habit of forgetting conversations or oral notices of an accident. Even if Joe’s supervisor were his best friend, when push came to shove there could be no telling what the supervisor might say in Court front of a Judge.
Furthermore, to ensure proper procedure, a shop steward should request the same written accident report that was also submitted to the supervisor. This would confirm that in fact an accident report had been filed.
Filing written accident reports should be a common practice. If a worker is injured all parties involved should want a written accident report as soon as possible. This will eliminate all the problems that arise when a worker only gives an oral notice of an injury.
Matthew Funk, a partner at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP, has been practicing Workers’ Compensation Law for over a decade. He is a member of the Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, Injured Workers’ Bar Association and the New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). He has written for the New York State Trial Lawyers’ Workers’ Compensation Decisions program and has lectured on numerous occasions focusing on Workers’ Compensation Law.