As a New Mexico workers’ compensation attorney, I’ve seen the full range of injuries that can result from an accident in the workplace, including serious and life-altering injuries such as the loss of a limb, paralysis, or loss of vision. Sadly, I have also worked with families after the death of a loved one on the job.
Minor Injuries Can Become Serious Injuries Over Time
But not all workplace accidents result in such immediate, apparent, and severe injuries. The health effects of many workplace accidents may seem minor at the time. Perhaps you felt a tweak in your back after lifting a heavy object or twisted your knee a bit coming down off of a ladder. Since it didn’t seem like that big a deal at the time, you decided to take some ibuprofen and simply “ride it out” instead of reporting the incident and your pain to your employer.
If you handle such “minor” injuries in that manner and decide not to notify your employer, it could have major consequences on your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits if those minor injuries evolve and turn out to be more serious than you first thought, as they sometimes do.
Failure to Report Your Injury Immediately Can Mean a Loss of Benefits
Under New Mexico’s Workers’ Compensation Act, employees must report an accident within 15 days after the occurrence. Failure to do so could mean losing your benefits, so if you wait until the pain, discomfort or other adverse effects of your injury become more serious before notifying your employer, it may be too late.
Failure to report an accident at the time can also make it easier for your employer or its insurer to deny that the injury you ultimately do report is work-related. Evidence about the accident or the recollections of witnesses could be lost, making it more difficult to show what happened. Additionally, your employer may prefer for you to receive medical treatment at a particular hospital, clinic, or walk-in facility for workers’ compensation purposes.
You should fill out a Notice of Accident form as soon as possible after your accident or sooner if you can, sign and date the form, ask your employer or supervisor to sign and date the form, and retain a signed and dated copy for yourself. Your employer is required to post the WCA Notice of Accident forms for you to use.
Employers are prohibited by law from retaliating or taking any adverse actions against employees for reporting a workplace injury or otherwise asserting and protecting their workers’ compensation rights, so there is no reason not to report an incident and injury, no matter how minor it may seem.
Most apparently minor injuries will indeed be just that. For the ones that do turn out to be more severe than they first appeared, given the possible loss of benefits if you fail to timely report the accident, reporting the accident becomes the easy choice.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Brown: Fighting for New Mexico Workers
I know how hard you work, and I’ll work just as hard for you. Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Brown today at (505) 275-6600 or fill out my online form to arrange for your free initial consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation matter. I look forward to helping you get back on your feet, and back to work.
This website has been prepared by the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Brown for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.