Here’s a great “lawyer answer”… it depends. What we worry about is when an employer tries to avoid telling their workers’ compensation carrier about a claim. It’s sort of like getting into a fender bender in a parking lot. You may be tempted to pay the other guy $500 to get his car fixed and keep everyone’s insurance company out of it. While that works with dents on fenders it’s not so clear that it works with internal injuries on workers.
If it gets you medical treatment more quickly and efficiently than waiting around for an adjuster we’re all in favor of putting the bill on health insurance. But if your boss isn’t reporting the claim to the adjuster this could be a big problem. We’ve seen it happen dozens of times: when the doctor takes you out of work you’ve got no income coming in. You chase down a workers’ compensation adjuster who in turn chases down your employer and asks why this wasn’t immediately turned in for handling. At that point your boss can admit he tried to handle it in house. Or he can blame you for everything.
Sadly, we’ve seen a lot of injured workers get the short end of a stick just because they tried to help the company out. You really need to think this through carefully. Our rule of thumb is that it is usually fine if it speeds up treatment and it’s your idea. We’re less thrilled by it when the employer is telling you to do it right off the bat.