More than two million workplace injuries occurred in the United States in 2021. Getting injured on the job is often overwhelming and confusing because you might not know what to do in such a situation. Keep reading to learn about the steps you should take after a workplace injury and how you can get compensated through workers’ comp benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Laws
Nearly every state in the U.S. requires businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance because it covers a wide range of workplace injuries or illnesses sustained by their employees. Although worker’s compensation laws vary by state, in most states, an employee can claim workers’ compensation to pay for medical bills and other expenses regardless of whether they are at fault.
While a person who suffers a workplace injury may be entitled to workers’ compensation, obtaining this compensation without legal assistance is challenging. If the employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, the employee can file a personal injury lawsuit against them to recover damages. However, not all employees qualify for workers’ compensation insurance. For example, agricultural or farm workers may not be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Steps to Take If You Are Injured On the Job
Here is what you should do if you get injured on the job. These are general guidelines, so you may have additional steps to take depending on the specifics of your case.
Report The Injury Immediately
When you suffer an injury on the job, regardless of whether the injury is minor or serious, you should immediately notify your supervisor or employer. If one or more co-workers witnessed your injuries, it could help strengthen your case.
Many states have a specific timeline to report a workplace injury, so it is essential to promptly report your workplace injury to your employer. It would also allow your employer to file the incident report within the required timeframe and start your workers’ compensation claim with the insurance company. On the other hand, if you fail to report the injury on time, it may forfeit your right to obtain workers’ compensation and allow your employer to infer that the injury was not sustained in the workplace.
Reporting the injury would let you learn about any applicable policies or rules your employee has for workplace injuries. Notifying your employer on time also allows you to focus on getting the necessary medical attention. In addition, your notification could help your employer take prompt action to fix any potential safety hazards that could harm other employees.
Seek Medical Attention
You should seek medical attention immediately after a workplace injury to prevent the injury from worsening or causing health complications. It is possible for workplace injuries to not be immediately apparent and have a delayed onset of symptoms. Getting a medical evaluation immediately after the incident would allow a doctor to diagnose any latent injuries and help you get treated promptly. This increases your chances of a successful recovery.
If you refuse or avoid medical treatment after an injury, it could not only harm your health, but you may also lose the right to worker’s comp. Some states have short deadlines for filing workers’ compensation claims, and any delay in diagnosis could lead to you missing the deadline.
If you file for workers’ compensation benefits without receiving proper treatment on time, it could give the insurance provider a reason to deny your claim. Verifiable medical records are essential evidence that supports your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Medical evidence would help you obtain compensation for the expenses related to your injury and make you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for the time you missed from work due to your injuries.
Getting workers’ compensation might be difficult without sufficient evidence proving you suffered a workplace accident. The evidence could include photos or videos of your injury and the accident scene.
If any faulty equipment or hazard on the workplace premises caused the injuries, you should take photos or videos of it as evidence in your claim. You can also obtain maintenance records to prove the injury resulted from the company’s negligence.
You should also start gathering medical expenses associated with your injuries; this includes any receipts, bills, reports, tests, and prescriptions. You should attend all follow-up appointments with your doctor until you reach maximum recovery or when the doctor informs you that your treatment is complete. If your injuries resulted in a loss of income, you should collect your recent pay stubs to prove that you suffered financially because of the workplace injury.
Another piece of evidence you should collect is the contact information of any witnesses and ask them if they would be willing to provide a statement about the accident.
Call a Lawyer
Getting the help of an experienced lawyer is a crucial step after a workplace injury. One reason is that a lawyer can stop you from making mistakes that could harm your claim. For example, anything you say to the employer or insurance company can be used as evidence against you. Similarly, if you sign any documents without consulting with your lawyer, it could harm your workers’ compensation claim.
Your lawyer would be well-versed in the workers’ compensation law and can guide you through the process. They can also provide expert guidance on communicating with your employer or the insurance company. The lawyer would also handle all the legal paperwork related to your case and ensure your claim is filed within the statute of limitations.
Collecting evidence is one of the biggest hurdles in a workers’ compensation claim. Your lawyer can help your case by gathering evidence such as surveillance footage, expert witness testimonies, and medical records. This evidence will support your claim and help you get maximum compensation for your damages. Your attorney can help you take the case to court if the workers’ compensation insurance does not cover the damages caused by the injury.