Employers Sometimes Fail to Report Employee Work Injuries

As required by the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Act, the majority of Wisconsin employers report all work-related injuries involving their employees to their worker’s compensation insurance companies. However, there are instances where supervisors, owners, and various other members of management will knowingly fail to report – or will misreport – work injuries to their worker’s compensation insurers.

Why some employers fail to report injuries is not always clear. Two common reasons Wisconsin worker’s compensation attorneys see are:

  1. The Employer fears their worker’s compensation insurance premiums will be raised by reporting work injuries, or;
  2. The employer simply lacks a worker’s compensation insurance policy.

Wisconsin law requires almost all employers to carry a worker’s compensation insurance policy and report every single employee work injury to their insurers. Nevertheless, Wisconsin worker’s compensation attorneys repeatedly see instances of employers both knowingly and unintentionally failing to report work injuries of all kinds. 

Employers Must Report Work Injuries Shortly After They Occur

When a work injury occurs, employees must report the injury to their supervisor or employer. The employer is then, in turn, responsible for collecting details regarding the work injury from the employee and reporting them to their worker’s compensation insurer.

Once the insurer receives the injury report, the injured worker generally receives a call from a worker’s compensation claims adjuster within a few days to discuss the facts of the work injury and secure health care authorizations so the insurer can investigate and begin making payments on medical expenses and any applicable wage loss benefits while the worker is on leave healing.

Red Flags to Lookout for After Reporting a Work Injury to your Employer

Unfortunately, the standard operating procedure for filing a worker’s compensation claim as described above is not always followed by employers. A major red flag is when the employer directs an injured worker to file a claim under their group health insurance plan, or if the worker does not have group health insurance, to send the medical bills to the employer for payment. Not only does this practice violate the Worker’s Compensation Act, but in the experiences of most worker’s compensation attorneys, employers rarely follow through on promises to pay all medical bills and lost wage benefits.

When Employers Do Not Report Work Injuries the Consequences Can be Serious

If an employer does not file a claim soon after a work injury, it can set off a series of complications for the injured worker that may make it much more difficult for the worker to recover, both financially and physically, from the injury. When a worker’s compensation claim is filed late, the follow can occur:

  • the injured worker can fall behind on the rent/mortgage and all other monthly bills;
  • the worker’s credit score can be hit as a result of the delayed processing of medical bills;
  • the worker’s compensation insurer will have to begin their investigation possibly weeks or months after the date of injury when evidence of the injury may be lacking, which may weaken the worker’s claim;
  • complicated arrangements will have to be made to ensure the group health insurer is fully reimbursed.

As a result, it is of paramount importance that all work injuries are promptly reported to the appropriate worker’s compensation carrier. While the law requires employers to report all injuries, it is also in the employee’s best interest to ensure that reporting occurs as soon as possible.

Protecting Yourself if You Suspect Your Employer Failed to Report Your Work Injury

Fortunately, there are measures an injured worker can take without an attorney to ensure their worker’s compensation claim gets reported. First, if a worker suspects his or her employer has not reported a work injury, he or she can look up their employer’s worker’s compensation insurer on the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau’s (WCRB) website. All an injured worker needs to do is submit the name of their employer and the date of their injury into the WCRB’s database. The WCRB will then reveal the worker’s compensation carrier’s identity and contact information for most Wisconsin employers. The worker may then contact the insurer directly to report an injury.

In addition, an injured worker can call the Department of Workforce Development’s (DWD) Worker’s Compensation Division to speak with a specialist about their employer’s non-reporting of the work injury.  From there, the DWD’s worker’s compensation specialist can advise as to whether they have records of a claim being filed by the employer and the identity of the employer’s worker’s compensation carrier. 

Employer Penalties for Failing to Report a Work Injury

Employers who fail to report work injuries to their workers compensation carriers may be subject to monetary penalties. Under the Worker’s Compensation Act, if an employer refuses to report an injury due to malice or bad faith, they are liable to pay a penalty to the injured worker for the lesser of either 200% of the benefits due or $30,000. In order to bring a bad faith claim against an employer in this kind of situation, the employee must prove that the employer had no reasonable basis to not report the injury.

Contact Hawks Quindel with Questions on Employer Failure to Report a Work Injury

If you were injured at work and your employer failed or refused to report the injury to their worker’s compensation insurer, or if you discover that your employer does not have worker’s compensation insurance, contact Hawks Quindel’s experienced worker’s compensation attorneys for a free evaluation of your claim. 

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Brandon Jubelirer