What are the time limits for reporting a work-related injury under Wisconsin's Worker's Compensation Act?

Jack Davila

As worker’s compensation attorneys, one of the most frequent questions we come across from prospective clients is how long they have to report a work-related injury to their employer.

By law, an employer is entitled to notice of a work-related injury within 30 days of the occurrence, or within 30 days after the employee knew he or she sustained a work-related injury or disability. A worker’s compensation insurance carrier is entitled by law to deny a claim if the injury is not reported in a timely manner.

Even though the law allows an employee 30 days within which to report an injury, it would be a mistake to wait even remotely that long to report the injury. It is critical that every injury, no matter how small, even if it causes no lost time or need for medical treatment, be reported immediately. To a skeptical employer, or a cynical insurance claims adjuster, any delay in reporting the injury will undermine the credibility of the claim and will be viewed as a “reasonable basis” to deny the claim.

For example, an employee may strain his back during the last hour of his shift on a Friday afternoon and may simply believe that it is a minor injury and after resting it over the weekend, the pain will go away. Then, when the pain doesn’t go away over the weekend, he first reports the injury on Monday morning when he returns to work. The skeptical employer, or cynical claims adjuster, will take the position that the injury likely occurred outside of work over the weekend and will deny the claim.

The injured worker has no proof to the contrary. He simply cannot prove that the injury occurred the previous Friday. The only way to combat this tactic is to report every injury, no matter how small. Similar problems can arise with injuries such as lacerations which at first appear to be minor cuts that do not justify filling out an accident report, but later develop into bacterial infections requiring significant medical treatment and a prolonged period of disability.

In sum, you should immediately report any work injury, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, to your employer. Contact our firm if you need help reporting a work-related injury.