Frequently Asked Questions - How Long Do You Have To Report an Injury at Work in Florida?
According to current Florida workers’ compensation law, “An employee who suffers an injury arising out of and in the course of employment shall advise his or her employer of the injury within 30 days after the date of or initial manifestation of the injury.” (The Workers’ Compensation Act extends this 30 day period to 90 days for “occupational disease” cases which are discussed below). Failure to advise the employer in this time frame shall bar a petition under this chapter unless one of four exceptions below are met. These exceptions include:
- The employer or the employer’s agent had actual knowledge of the injury.
- The cause of the injury could not be identified without a medical opinion and the employee advised the employer within 30 days after obtaining a medical opinion indicating that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment.
- The employer did not put its employees on notice that they employ fewer than 4 employees and is thus permitted by law not to secure payment of compensation and who elects not to do so. In these situations, the employer must post clear written notice in a conspicuous location of an injured worker’s lack of entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits.
- Exceptional circumstances exist to justify the failure to report timely.
If no statutory exceptions above apply, an injured worker’s failure to report the accident and injury within 30 days will automatically bar a claim.
Although you technically have 30 days to report an injury, this doesn’t mean you should wait to report an accident and/or request treatment. The longer you wait to report an on the job accident or injury, the more likely your employer and their insurance company may challenge or deny the claim later. In fact, you really should report any on the job accidents to your employer as soon as possible.
Once an accident is reported, you should be asked to complete a First Report of Injury. If medical care is needed, your employer should notify their workers’ compensation carrier and advise you where to seek authorized treatment. Once an accident is reported and medical care is requested, an injured worker should be directed where to obtain medical care authorized by your employer and their insurance company.
In many situations, an injured worker may not realize the extent of their injuries or that medical care is required until the next day or a couple days later. As a general rule, you should report any accident or injury more significant than a paper cut to your employer as soon as possible even if you don’t immediately require medical care. If medical care is ultimately required, make sure to advise your employer so authorized medical care can be set up on your behalf as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, your employer may not know the proper procedures on documenting your accident. In other situations, you may feel that your employer is intentionally trying to deter you from reporting an accident and seeking medical care. If you attempt to report an accident to a supervisor or Human Resources and they refuse to document your injury or provide medical care, you should be persistent. For example, let’s say you suffer an on the job accident and immediately report it to your supervisor who does nothing. At that point, you may want to talk to someone with your employer’s Human Resources Department to document your injury and determine where to go for medical care. For smaller companies, you may want to speak with the owner directly.
Another option is to contact your employer’s insurance carrier directly to report the accident. The insurance carrier’s contact information is often found on an informational poster found in your break room or where employees clock in/out. You can simply call the number listed and initiate a claim that way. If you have any issues reporting a claim or obtaining authorized care once your claim is reported, you should strongly consider contacting a lawyer specializing in workers’ compensation for legal advice on how to proceed.
As indicated above, there are exceptions to the rule that an injury must be reported within 30 days. If your employer has actual knowledge of your accident, it would be difficult for them to later claim they were not “on notice” that an injury occurred. While there are also three other exceptions to the 30 day notice rule, it is often extremely difficult to prevail except in extremely unique situations. Otherwise, your claim would likely be barred for failing to report it in a timely manner as required. Again, the importance of reporting an accident/injury as soon as possible cannot be overstated.
Some injuries are not the result of a specific trauma or accident, but rather suffered over time. For example, let’s say you develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from repetitive movements at work such as typing. While a specific accident or injury may not have occurred, it would be covered under a “repetitive trauma” theory. In these situations, it is sometimes difficult if not impossible to determine the specific date of injury. If you believe you may have suffered an accident or injury due to repetitive trauma, be sure to report it as soon as possible. If you are still employed by the same employer, notice should not be an issue.
Occupational diseases are completely distinct from an ordinary accident and have very signifcant distinctions under the law. An occupational disease is defined as a disease which is due to causes and conditions characteristic of a particular trade, occupation, process or employment and to exclude all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is exposed, unless the incidence of this diseases substantially higher in the particular trade, occupational, process or employment than for the general public. As indicated above, you have 90 days to provide notice of an “occupational disease”, not 30 days as required for the normal accident claim. Call 1-800-TrialPro now for a free consultation so we can explain your options and rights.