If you’ve been hurt on the job, you were probably already told that you need to fill out an “incident report.” Perhaps your boss or supervisor gave you paperwork to complete, or your union shop steward has told you that you need to fill one out soon. But what is an “incident report,” and what happens if you don’t complete it?
An incident report is a template form that employers use to document injuries that take place at work. The form will typically tell you what it is by having large bold words across the top saying “INCIDENT REPORT.” Of course, this is not always the case. Some employers may use forms that are titled “Injury Report,” “Workplace Incident,” “Worker Injury Report,” or a similar variation. Employers sometimes get these forms from their insurance companies, or they may even pull them from a book on worker injuries.
The key to look for is what the form is specifically requesting. If it is asking for details about your injury, then it’s probably the incident report. You absolutely should complete the form.
Under Ohio law, you must report your injury to your employer. Failure to do so in a timely manner can result in your workers’ compensation claim being denied. Make sure you get a copy of the completed form, and bring it to your attorney when you first meet to discuss your case.
The dedicated Ohio workplace injury attorneys of Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., L.P.A., are committed to helping injured workers understand their rights and the complex workers’ compensation system. Schedule a free consultation with our team today to discuss the next steps in your claim.
What Is Included in an Incident Report?
Generally, these forms are pretty short. They are designed to gather the important information about what happened. Here are the types of information they will include:
- Facts about the accident injuries
- How you got injured at work
- Date and time when the incident occurred
- Names of anyone who witnessed the incident
- What parts of your body are injured
- Information about where you received medical care
- Corrective action plans or training required to avoid future incidents
Tips for Filling Out the Incident Report
Don’t worry about writing a complex statement of all the problems you are experiencing, and don’t try to author a lengthy statement. Sometimes less is more. Here are some keys to remember:
Be honest. Never lie, fabricate, or embellish facts. It almost always comes out later, and dishonesty in the incident report will only serve to hurt your case later.
Stick to the facts. This is not the time to discuss unrelated issues or go into lengthy discussions about how your supervisor doesn’t like you, how some other employee has a history of dangerous behavior at work, or similar matters. This is a time to very quickly state exactly what happened without any extra commentary. A good description might read as follows:
“I was lifting a package from the ground to the conveyor belt. As I lifted the package, I felt a sharp pain in my back. I dropped the package and fell to the ground in pain. I was unable to stand without assistance and called out for help. My co-worker called 9-1-1 for help, and emergency medical technicians took me to the hospital for evaluation.”
Be concise and to the point. This goes hand-in-hand with sticking to the facts. The example above is obviously generic, and every case is unique. However, the goal should be to give your employer exactly the facts of what happened – nothing more and nothing less. If there is something highly relevant you think needs to be discussed, you should include it. Just be sure not to go into lengthy tangents about things that may not be related.
List all medical providers you’ve seen for the injury. Your employer’s insurance company should pay for your care. You must seek treatment from a provider who is “certified” by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Be sure to list any providers you’ve seen for emergency care.
List all body parts that hurt, even if you think it’s minor. Many injured workers believe an injury is minor, only to later find out it’s more serious than they thought. Don’t sell yourself short. Even if it’s just a minor strain or pulled muscle, list it. This tends to be a problem for men, especially blue-collar workers who fear that reporting injuries will make them look weak or less masculine. Do not fall into this mental trap! Now is the time to just put everything on paper. If something turns out to be minor, that can be dealt with later. Now is not the time to be tough – now is the time to protect yourself and your family. You can bet that your employer will be protecting itself as well.
DO NOT SIGN until all sections are complete. Most incident reports will have a section for the employer to complete. Don’t sign your name to it until your employer completes their section as well. Likewise, if there are blocks or questions that don’t apply to your situation, write “N/A” in those sections. This will prevent others from being able to fill these blocks in after you have signed.
Why You Need a Copy of the Final Signed Incident Report
The incident report forms is designed to create a record of the event. Your supervisor will fill out certain portions, then it will likely be sent to human resources or risk management personnel to review and complete certain sections. It may change hands numerous times. If it’s lost, your employer could argue that you never notified them of the accident. Without a copy of the document, it is hard to prove that you really did complete it.
Likewise, when you meet with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, having the form handy can make the consultation much easier. Your attorney can get a lot of the important information all in one place.
Finally, if anyone alters or tries to forge the document after it leaves your possession, then at least you will have an authentic copy of the form, as of the time you completed it.
Talk to a Northeastern Ohio Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
Throughout the Northeastern parts of Ohio, factory workers, laborers, and all types of skilled blue-collar workers put their time in every day, helping to keep our great state going. Workers are the backbone of any company, and they help the owners and stockholders make money. So when a worker is injured on the job, the company has a responsibility to make sure the worker and his or her family are taken care of. This is why we have workers’ compensation.
If you’ve been hurt on the job and your employer is denying your claim or you worry that you won’t get a fair shake, trust the lawyers of Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co., L.P.A., to fight for your rights and protect your family’s right to compensation. With offices in Youngstown, Akron, Warren, Salem, and Ravenna, we make it easy and convenient for you to get the help you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.