Failure to File Written Report of Work Injury is Not Always Fatal to your Claim
The italicized part of the statute's language is important, because it excuses the lack of written notice if the employee can prove that the employer was not prejudiced by failure to receive the written notice. One way to prove this is to prove that the employer actually knew about the accident. This is not a difficult thing to prove if a supervisor actually witnessed the accident. But even if the employer did not witness the accident, it is still possible to prove that the employer was not prejudiced because they did not get written notice. In a recent case, Sell v. Ozarks Medical Center, the Southern District Court of Appeals found that an employee who delivered a doctors' note to his supervisor the day after the accident informed his employer of the injury. This shifted the burden to the employer to show that the lack of written notice hampered the employer in its ability to investigate the accident, or to show that the employer was denied the opportunity to minimize the employee's injuries. The employer in the Sell case was unable to show that it was prejudiced and thus, the employee was able to maintain the claim even without having given written notice within 30 days of the injury.
The moral of the story is this---do not let your employer tell you that you cannot file a workers' compensation claim because you did not give written notice within 30 days of the injury. You may very well be able to show that the employer was not prejudiced by your failure to give the technical written notice.
Of course, if you want to avoid this battle in the future, if you suffer a work accident in Missouri in the future, make it a point to give your employer written notice of the time, place and nature of the injury.
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