Insurers and employers know that to truly save money, they must discourage the reporting of injuries. The report of an injury is the first step in the process of obtaining benefits. Under Pennsylvania law, a failure to report an injury within 120 days may relinquish your right to compensation; as a result, it is hard to imagine an injured worker failing to report a valid claim. Yet, a recent study found that even amputations are underreported.
What May Employers Do to Prevent Reports of Work-Place Injuries?
How would an employer discourage an injured worker from reporting an injury to such a degree?
- Surveillance: Insurance companies aggressively seek to combat “fraud” through surveillance. While there is no hard and fast empirical evidence that worker fraud is actually connected to the costs of a workers’ compensation claim, the public focus on fraud stigmatizes the injured worker. To avoid the stigma, injured workers – especially those who have adequate private health insurance—avoid reporting a claim, to begin with.
- Drug Testing: More and more employers mandate post-injury drug testing. The mere idea of taking such a test discourages employees from reporting an injury. This means that the injured worker is faced with the connotations of having a work injury compounded by the connotations of a positive drug test—even if the testing results of no effect upon the workers’ compensation injury.
- Incentive-based safety policies: Some employers connect incentives to workplace safety. For instance, if a team on a job site does not have a work injury for a specified period of time, they may receive a pay increase or bonus. While employers use these policies to promote safety, the reality of these policies is that they place workers against workers. An injured worker must choose between care and benefits necessary for a work injury and the financial well-being of coworkers. The net effect is tension between lodging an injury report and a desire to “tough it out.”
Do not let these efforts keep you from the benefits you need. Our clients who choose to “tough it out” often find that they wish they came to us earlier. None of the efforts highlighted above should keep a valid claim from payment. If you’ve been hurt at work and need advice, take advantage of our free consultations and contact us immediately.