When you go to work, the last thing you expect is to get injured there. However, injuries at work are extremely common and may happen for a wide variety of reasons and in many different settings. Injuries may include broken bones, illnesses, stress, poisoning, or even death. You can read more here about other work-related injuries and the legal options available to those who are injured at work.
It is essential for you to report the injury to your supervisor or employer as soon as you get hurt at work. Depending on the state where you live, you may be required to report your injuries within a certain time period or, at most, within a few days of the accident. However, your best course of action to ensure that your rights are protected is to report the injury as soon as possible.
Once the reporting is done, your next step should be to file a worker’s compensation claim with the workers’ compensation court in your state. This means that your employer now knows officially about your injury at work. At this point, protections go into effect.
There are differences in the way workers’ compensation works in every state but, in general, you can expect to:
- Have a right to file a claim for your illness or injury.
- Have a right to have a workers’ compensation hearing.
- Have a right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
- Once your doctor releases you to go back to work, you have the right to return to your job.
- If your doctor determines that your illness or injury makes you unable to return to work, be it temporarily or permanently, you have a right to receive some type of disability income.
- Should your workers’ compensation claim be denied, you have a right to appeal.
- Have a right to have legal representation throughout the entire process.
If it happens that you are injured through the negligence or fault of a third party, which could be the driver of a delivery truck or the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment that you have to use in your job, you may have a right to bring a claim against that party or entity. When this happens, you move away from the workers’ compensation system and into civil court by filing a lawsuit.
When you file a lawsuit for an illness or injuries that are related to your work you can generally seek compensation for some losses to which you would not be entitled in a workers’ compensation claim.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim generally allows you to receive coverage for the medical expenses related to recovering your health as well as income you have lost while being unable to work. These are considered economic losses in a civil lawsuit. However, civil lawsuits also allow you to pursue non-economic damages such as the physical and mental pain and suffering associated with your injuries and other items such as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible items to which your attorney can help you place a monetary value. Ask your attorney if your case qualifies you to file this type of claim.
As an employee, when you get sick or injured at work, you may receive certain requests or offers from your employer such as an encouragement to use your own health insurance policy to cover your medical expenses.
When this happens, it is important for you to know that you have the right to refuse to go along with such a request and to go through the appropriate workers’ compensation channels.
Your employer may also offer you an incentive to discourage you from filing a workers’ compensation claim. In this case, you also have the right to simply say “No”.
You have a right to pursue your workers; compensation claim and should not fear any consequences for doing so. Any employer who makes it hard for an ill or injured employee to pursue a workers’ compensation claim may face a variety of penalties, depending on the state where the injury took place.
By getting appropriate medical treatment for your illness you will be taking the right steps towards recovering your health while also maximizing your workers’ compensation benefits. The first step should always be for you to see a medical professional as soon as possible after the first signs of a work-related illness or injury. You may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and the damage to your body if your wait may be irreversible.
In all cases, getting prompt medical attention means you will recover faster and, by doing so, you give less of an opportunity to your employer to claim that your illness or injury is not related to your work. It is important not to let things slide, thinking that you will surely be feeling better soon or that your injuries are not that severe. This way of thinking cannot only delay your recovery but will likely result in issues when it comes to your workers’ compensation claim.
If your injuries require it, you should call an ambulance or drive yourself to the nearest emergency room. If it is not a medical emergency, it is crucial for you to follow your state’s rules regarding receiving medical care. While some states may give you the right to choose your own healthcare practitioner, in other states you may find that the law indicates that it is your employer or its insurer who gets to decide where and from whom you receive medical care. Make sure to have the correct information before starting treatment in order not to jeopardize your workers’ compensation claim. If you have doubts, contact a workers’ compensation attorney.