I recently took a call from an individual who had suffered two separate work accidents doing injury to his shoulders. The accidents were witnessed by both co-workers and a supervisor. He tried to continue working for a period because he did not want to "make waves" with his employer. Ultimately, he realized that he needed to see a doctor, but he decided not to pursue treatment through workers' compensation. He said this was because he wanted to be a "good company man." He even told his boss as much. He used his health insurance instead.
He was told by the doctor that he had tears in both of his shoulders and would need surgeries. Of course, being the "good company man," he told the doctor that his injuries both happened while he was at home. This is how it is documented in his medical records. Well, the "good company" ultimately fired this man since he was out of work for so long while recovering from his surgeries. They then canceled his health insurance which is now refusing to pay for the physical therapy he desperately needs to become functional again.
So, this poor man now has limited function in both of his arms which may prevent him from performing at a level that will get him hired by another employer. Because he reported to the doctors that the accidents happened at home, and the old co-workers and supervisors will never step up and admit that he was hurt on the job, there is simply no way to prove that this should all be covered by workers' compensation. Now the man has no job, no way to get fully fixed and no ability to pursue the benefits he rightfully and justly deserves.
The point of this true and far too common story is to stress the reality that protecting YOU is far more important than the hope of protecting your current job. There are laws in place that protect injured workers from being fired simply for exercising their workers' compensation rights. A lost job can be replaced, but a permanent injury without proper treatment can cause much more damage. If you or anyone you know ever finds yourselves in such a position,
report the injury as work-related! Let your employer decide whether they are going to send you out to a doctor or if they will deny it. This is the only way to leave all of your options open and to see that you are properly protected. And, of course, if you are ever in such a position,