How Long is Too Long to Wait to File Workers Comp?

Thanks to the excellent website for calling attention to a case where an injured employee waited two months after an alleged incident to apply for workers comp.   His argument was that he didn’t think the injury was serious, but it got progressively worse for two months, when he had to see a specialist. He said he informed the company as soon as he realized the seriousness of the injury.  The company argued that “it always stressed to its employees the importance of immediately reporting injuries because of the presence of bacteria and chemicals in the workplace that could cause even minor cuts to become infected.”

It happened in Kentucky where the workers comp laws say workers need to tell the company about an injury “as soon as practicable.”

The courts found against the worker because so much time had passed, but it creates a question, how long is “as soon as practicable?”    Apparently it is not two months, but is it one month?  Is it a week?   Back injuries may take a while to heal or present themselves as a longer-term problem.  How long is too long to report?

For employers that creates a high degree of uncertainty and potential exposure for incidents they didn’t even know occurred.  It is a pretty common problem in the oilpatch where crews may head home after a hitch, only to see their local doctor and start the workers comp process.

That is one reason why companies should look at companies that provide immediate post-incident injury management.  Typically an injured worker will talk to a trained professional by phone and describe the symptoms. In most cases on-site first aid is warranted and the employee is urged to contact them again if the symptoms worsen.  If the injury requires treatment, the service may recommend a clinic or, if it is an emergency, the worker can be taken to an E.R.

What does this accomplish?

  1. It establishes a treatment regime that is aimed at the right treatment for the injury.  Sending an employee home with an injury that could get worse with time doesn’t help the employee or the employee. Proper and early intervention has been shown to dramatically reduce the need for workers comp and shorten the period before an employee is able to return to work.
  2. It answers worker questions quickly and opens a communications channel in case the injury needs further treatment.  This helps encourage workers to report an injury when it happens.
  3. It “freezes the facts” by giving a quickly documenting what happened, the severity of the injury in real time and the recommended course of treatment.
  4. It gives a clear process and documentation that makes it harder for a worker to not report an incident and come back later with a claim.

CORE Health Network‘s TimeZero injury case management gives companies and their employees the peace of mind to know that an RN is just a call away if there is an incident.  CORE’s nurses are experienced in injury management and OSHA regulations, and are certified on workers comp in all 50 states.  If a worker is injured, they will be on the phone immediately to perform triage, find the nearest clinic qualified to treat the specific injury and will follow-up to ensure that the worker is receiving the right care.   For more information contact 



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