Greanya Legal Services
|Posted on 25 February, 2015 at 19:00|
By Daniel Greanya, BA (Hons.), MA.
One issue that often hurts WSIB claimants is a failure to report an injury when it occurs. A workplace injury does not always seem to be serious enough at first, and often employees try to work through the injury and try to ignore the symptoms. While sometimes ignoring the symptoms may work for a while, this strategy can also backfire on the worker. A worker has a duty to cooperate in treatment and early and safe return to work. The key word in this equation is early and SAFE. In trying to work through and injury, an employee can easily aggravate the injury, making it worse than it was initially, or cause a new injury. Waiting also may make it difficult to prove that the injury occurred in the course of employment, by muddying the waters for the employee's claim.
The bottom line is that the best practice is for an employee to proactively report an injury and put it in writing as soon as the symptoms occur. Even if the injury does not require any modification in duties, a worker should still report it to their employer. A workplace injury which re-occurs is compensable, but it is not compensable if the employee did not report the initial injury. If an employee fails to report a workplace injury and needs benefits later on when the injury re-occurs or worsens, the Board may find that the employee has exceeded the limitation period, or has contributed to their injury, or that the injury did not arise within the course of employment, and reduce or deny benefits on that basis. More fundamentally, failing to report a minor injury may have lasting and permanent consequences for an employee's health if the condition worsens. Similarly, employers should proactively encourage employees to report injuries and seek treatment. While a short term modification or treatment may seem like a drain on productivity, early treatment reduces the impact of the injury and allows the employee to return to their pre-injury duties quicker and with less disruption. Modifying an employee's duties or providing medical treatment is superior to prolonging the injury so that it is permanent and more expensive. Early reporting and treatment is not just smart for the employee, it is also a sound business decision.
Workers must report a workplace accident or injury and make a claim within six months of the injury, unless the Board allows an extension of the deadline, yet an employee should report an injury as soon as possible. Similarly, employers must report a workplace injury within seven business days, unless the injury results in first aid only, or the worker requires modified duties at regular pay for seven days or less. Both a worker and an employer also have a duty to report any material change in circumstances in relation to the workplace injury and the claim for benefits.
DISCLAIMER: This article is intended as general information, and does not replace the advice of a Licenced Paralegal or Lawyer. For advice on your specific case, contact Greanya Legal Services directly.