“Notice” of Work Injury in Workers’ Compensation Cases.
Tennessee law requires that the injured worker give notice to his employer of a work injury. While some employment handbooks have reporting guidelines of less than 30 days, under the Workers’ Compensation law, the time limit is 30 days for written or actual notice. Actual notice may be one’s supervisor witnessing an accident, verbally reporting an accident to a supervisor and/or being hauled away from the accident scene on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to the local emergency room.
The problem with actual notice (absent the ambulance illustration) is that one often gets into a he said/she said contest of what was reported. It is much safer and recommended that an injury report be submitted in writing. If the employer does not complete an incident report and a First Report of Work Injury (accident report) then the employee should:
a) Write a description of the injury relating it to the work activity;
b) Give a description of what body parts are injured as a result of the accident;
c) Give the date and time of the accident;
d) Give the location of the accident;
e) Deliver this to someone in supervision (HR if there is an HR Department), on a construction site to the owner or manager of the job. The notice has to be given to someone in supervision. It cannot be given to a co-worker or you run the risk of a problem;
f) Keep a copy of the notice. Paperwork does get lost;
It is surprising how often this issue comes up. It is also surprising how often the defense has no merit once the injured workers’ attorney makes an investigation. However, please take precautions to protect yourself and your family from this defense by being certain that notice is given in a timely fashion to the employer.