While most employers take appropriate safety measures and precautions, such as investing in safety training and posting signage to prevent workplace injuries, accidents still happen.
The steps you take when you sustain an injury at work can make all the difference. Read on for the right steps to take when injured at work to protect your rights and get compensation.
1. Seek medical attention when injured at work
The first step to take when you sustain an injury at work is to seek medical assistance, even when you are not experiencing any pain.
Sometimes the impact of a slip, trip, or fall may become apparent days or weeks after the accident, so getting medical attention right away allows the health professional to perform a complete body evaluation to prevent severe complications.
Seeking medical assistance also increases the chances of obtaining workers compensation benefits. This is because the court often evaluates the severity and validity of your claim based on the doctor’s report.
To increase the chances of getting compensated, ensure you visit the doctor your employer refers you to. However, you can still get a second opinion, especially when disagreeing with the doctor’s assessment.
Be sure to give your doctor a detailed account of what happened and list the signs and symptoms you may be experiencing.
Ascertain that the doctor records everything you tell them and request a Health Professional’s Report to help you establish your worker’s compensation claim. Remember to track and record any expenses you incur due to your injuries.
2. Inform your employer
Most workers are hesitant to report an accident because they fear their employers could terminate their contracts.
However, it is illegal in most states to reassign, demote, discharge, or take any punitive action against the staff because they have testified or pursued worker’s compensation due to injuries or occupational illnesses. Be sure to immediately inform your employer of the accident, regardless of the severity of your injury.
Reporting your accident does not only allow you to complete the official accident report. It also enables your employer to review your rights and offer guidance.
Most states have laws governing how and when workers should file an accident report. For this reason, you should evaluate your state’s law to ensure you report your workplace injuries within the specified timeline; otherwise, you hurt your chances of receiving worker’s compensation.
When speaking to your employer, let them know precisely what happened. If you have any safety concerns, be sure to inform them. This will encourage your employers to make necessary changes that could save your colleagues from potential injuries and prevent you from continuing to work in hazardous conditions.
3. Collect evidence of the injury at work
If you can, consider returning to the accident scene as soon as possible. Your employer might have the accident scene cleaned up, so it is best to collect evidence before any changes are made.
Be sure to keep a written record of the accident. This will prevent forgetting specific details of the accident days or weeks after the incident. Some of the points you should write down include the following:
- The scene of the accident
- The time and date of the accident
- The contact information and names of anyone present during the accident
- What were you doing when the accident happened
The more detailed your written report is, the better. You could even take pictures of the area the accident happened to support your claim.
4. File your workers’ compensation claim
Be sure to promptly file a worker’s compensation claim with the organization’s insurance company. A worker’s compensation enables you to cover the injuries sustained at work. It can also cover any occupational illnesses.
Often, your healthcare provider is required to file a claim with your employer’s managed care organization (MCO).
If your employer is self-insured, consider filing your worker’s comp claim with the employer directly. Ensure you file your claim within two years of your illness or injury to be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits.
5. Understand your benefits and rights
The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (BWC) often sends you an ID card and notification letter once your claim is successfully filed. You will likely receive these documents in your mail within a few days or weeks.
Be sure to research what benefits you will likely receive and how worker’s compensation claims are evaluated and approved. The better you understand the worker’s compensation claim process, the better you can protect your rights and ensure you get the benefits you deserve as you recover from your injuries.
Familiarizing yourself with your rights, benefits, and how the process works helps you catch any mistakes with your claim, enabling you to fight for your rights.
6. Hire an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer
Your employer’s insurance company will look for ways to provide as little compensation as possible or deny compensation altogether. This, combined with the complexities of filing a worker’s compensation claim, makes it paramount to seek the counsel of an experienced compensation lawyer.
Even when you take time to research and understand your rights and benefits, you may come across aspects of your claim you were unfamiliar with, which could have a significant impact on your case. Liaising with a compensation attorney ensures you are not caught off guard.
A compensation lawyer is familiar with the worker’s compensation system and will help you navigate the whole process. This is especially important when your compensation claim is denied. An attorney can also help you evaluate whether you qualify for additional compensation from other parties.
Often when other parties contributed to the accident that resulted in your injuries, you can receive more compensation for the damages than what you would from your worker’s compensation claim alone.
Be sure to find an attorney with relevant experience to strengthen your case, especially when you intend to file a lawsuit. You should also consider how long the lawyer has practised and whether they are licensed before hiring. Checking a potential lawyer’s reviews from previous clients can also give insights into their abilities and work ethics.
7. Track your expenses
Be sure to keep a detailed record of everything once you are injured to build your worker’s compensation claim. Start by keeping track of the days you miss work.
The Bureau of Worker’s Compensation allows workers to get weekly wage replacement pay, which one receives once they are out of work for seven working days.
You should also keep track of any out-of-pocket expenses related to your medical treatment. This includes your doctor appointments, treatments, and medications. If you often travel to seek medical attention, ensure you track your mileage. You will likely receive compensation payments for mileage that exceeds 20 miles.
Ensure you present your expense records to your compensation attorney to help them calculate your losses. This will enable them to help you fight for the compensation you are duly owed.
8. File a lawsuit
Strive to settle a compensation claim with your employer out of court. However, if your claim is denied, you are terminated, you do not get what you are duly owed, or you are permanently incapacitated, you could consider filing a legal claim to protect your rights.
Work with your lawyer to build a solid, winning case.
The aftermath of workplace accidents can be scary and stressful. You have to deal with medical bills besides the physical pain from your injuries.
You also have to struggle to provide for your family as you will likely be out of work. By following the above steps, you can fight for your rights to get the compensation you deserve.
I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.