In 2017, employers in America reported over 2 million nonfatal workplace injuries. And while safety features and new worker protection laws are making the workplace safer every day, there is still a danger of getting injured at any job you may have.
So what do you do if you get injured on the job? What are the proper steps you should take to ensure that you get compensated properly and that you aren’t at risk for getting in trouble with your employer?
Keep reading to find out the steps you should take in case you’re ever injured on the job.
1. Seek Medical Attention
The first thing you should do if you’re hurt at work is to seek medical attention. While it’s important to ensure that you’ve gone through the proper channels and informed everyone who needs to know that you’ve been hurt, your health is the number one priority here.
If you need immediate medical attention, go get it. Don’t wait.
However, many people fear that if they don’t seek medical attention immediately, they won't qualify for workers compensation. But some injuries, like many maritime worker injuries, take a while to show visible symptoms. As long as you follow the next steps, you’ll be covered.
2. Notify Your Supervisor
After you’ve gotten attention for any immediate injuries, you need to notify your supervisor of what happened. Try to remember as much detail as you can. The date and time of the incident, exactly what happened, what you did, and any witnesses who may be able to corroborate your story are also very helpful.
You need to make sure that you’re following all of the company’s internal policies for reporting an injury as well. Report your injury no later than the first ten days, but if possible do it right away.
After you report your injury, if you have to miss three days of work or more, your employer has to submit a report to the WCC.
3. File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Once you’ve notified your employer of your injury you are safe to file a workers’ compensation claim. FIll out Form C-3 and deliver it to the closest Workers’ Compensation Board to you.
You have up to two years from the date of the injury or disablement to file, otherwise, you will lose your right to receive benefits.
Different states have different rules and regulations surrounding Workers’ Comp claims, so make sure that you understand your state’s laws before moving forward. If there’s any confusion, don’t be afraid to talk to a lawyer.
4. Follow Doctor’s Orders
Once you have notified your employer and filed your claim, there’s not much you should have to worry about aside from healing.
It’s important that you take care of yourself and your injury. Follow all of the orders that the doctor gives you, attend all of your required physical therapy and follow up appointments. Keep track of all of your receipts for these appointments just in case you need to verify the money you spent on the injury.
5. Follow All Medical Examination Steps
Even though you may want to seek medical attention from your personal health care provider, some employers want to get a second opinion from a doctor of their own. You don’t have to visit any doctor you don’t want to visit, but doing so could make the workers’ compensation process a little easier down the road.
6. Go Back to Work When You Can
It’s important that you go back to work as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss too much work and find out that your workers’ comp funds won't cover the entirety of your time off work.
As soon as your doctor has cleared you, it’s time to go back. This is something else that you should keep clear documentation of, just in case there are any questions down the road.
7. Attend Relevant Hearings
Once you’ve taken care of all of those things, all that’s left to do is heal and wait for a response from the workers’ comp board in your area. If your employer intends to fight your claim, you will need to attend all of the relevant hearings and ensure that you bring all your paperwork with you.
This is why you need to document everything you can in writing. Having witnesses is a great way to ensure that you get a fair shake at a trial.
When to Hire a Lawyer
For the most part, if your injury was minor, your employer admits that the injury happened while on the job, and you didn’t need to miss much work, you won't need to hire a lawyer. These are simple cases that are pretty cut and dry.
However, as soon as complications arise in your case, you need to hire a lawyer. Here are some examples of when you should hire an attorney:
- Employer denies claim
- Employer doesn’t pay benefits promptly
- Settlement doesn’t cover lost wages or medical bills
- Resulting medical issues inhibit your work performance
- You apply for Social Security benefits
- Your employer retaliates
- Your injury is the result of misconduct or third-party action
In these cases, an attorney will make sure that you have all the paperwork filled out and filed that you need. They’ll gather the evidence for you and will help you negotiate with all of the involved insurance companies. If there’s a settlement in your future, your attorney can help with that as well.
Rightful Compensation for Being Injured on the Job
When you’ve been injured on the job it’s of dire importance that you follow all of your employer’s steps and internal procedures and then file a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible. If you want support during your time of healing, this is the only way to go. So remember to document everything, follow all rules and regulations, and get your paperwork filled out on time.
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