If you suffer a work injury, however minor it might seem, notifying your employer as soon as possible is key to protecting your rights. If you have an accident at work, tell your supervisor that day if possible. Fill out an accident report right away. Keep a copy if you can, but at least make notes of what you wrote and what date the report was made.

The deadline for reporting an injury is 45 days after the date of the accident, or 45 days from when your repetitive stress injury becomes apparent. The longer you wait, however, the more opportunity you create for the insurance company to deny your claim. The insurance company would love to point to the fact that you delayed as proof that your weren’t as hurt as you say you are, or that your injury occurred outside of work. This saves them a ton of money.

After reporting your injury, don’t sit around to see what happens. See your doctor if there is any indication that your injury is serious or getting worse. If you are in pain, see your doctor. Again, the longer you wait the more you allow the insurance company to question your injury, motives and truthfulness. In addition, you obviously put your health at risk if you allow an injury to worsen.

Waiting can put your ability to get benefits in jeopardy. In Illinois, employees who are injured on the job are entitled to coverage of medical bills and lost wages and can receive a settlement for the permanency of their injury. If the insurance company has denied your claim, talk to an experienced Illinois work injury attorney about what to do next. Their denial doesn’t have to be the final answer. You can get your case before an arbitrator (similar to a judge) who can make an unbiased decision based on the facts.

By Michael Helfand