We've all heard the age-old riddle of, "If a tree falls in the forest, but no one's around to hear it, does it really make a sound?" This same riddle can be used in workers' compensation. If a worker gets hurt on the job, but doesn't report it in the correct and timely manner, can he get the medical treatment and disability benefits he's entitled to? Unfortunately, the answer to this riddle is a bit easier. The answer is "No".
Like most other states, Kansas and Missouri have specific requirements for both the time allowed for an injured worker to report an industrial accident and the type of information that must be provided. These rules have been made stricter in recent years, and failure to follow them can derail a claim before it even gets started. What is potentially most frightening about this is that most health insurance and short-term disability policies do not cover work-related injuries. As such, if the timely notice requirement is not met, an injured worker can be left with no way to get the medical treatment he or she needs in order to get back to work, and no financial assistance while hoping to recover. This unfortunate scenario needs to be avoided at all costs.
While more detailed information is available throughout our website, you should know that notice of a work-related injury should be given within 30 days of when the accident took place or from when diagnosed as work-related by a doctor. In Kansas, this is reduced to 20 days if you no longer work for that employer. In addition, the notice should make clear the belief that the injury was caused by a described accident or specific work activities. Simply reporting pain without a work-related cause is not enough. It is definitely best to do so in writing that includes your name and address. A copy of the notice can then be kept for your own records.
Although there are a few loopholes to the specific deadlines and requirements, it's best to avoid them entirely. Timely notice of a work-related injury is the first and, thus, the most important step in preserving the benefits to which you are rightfully entitled. Unlike the tree, you CAN and SHOULD make a sound after you fall. Best of all, we're here to help pick you back up.
If we can answer any questions you have about your work related injury, please do not hesitate to contact Haight Stang, LLC at (913) 498-9779 in Kansas, (816) 286-4151 in Missouri or at firstname.lastname@example.org.