Whether due to an accident or repeated strain, work-related injuries are an unfortunate fact of life. If you are injured in the course of your job, your company should cover your treatment through worker’s compensation. However, it is not always that easy. As though being injured isn’t stressful enough as it is, some companies are reluctant to pay worker’s compensation claims and will find ways to avoid doing so. Take these steps to ensure that your legal right to worker’s compensation is protected.
Report Your Work Injury
First, you must report the injury to your supervisor. This is an obvious step to take in the case of an acute traumatic injury, like cutting yourself or another injury that might require immediate medical attention. But it is just as important to report a cumulative-trauma injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, or another job-related injury like hearing loss as soon as you become aware of it. When you report this injury to your supervisor, make clear that the injury was caused by work. Your state may require that the injury is reported within a specified timeframe to be considered eligible for worker’s comp.
File An Accident Report
Your supervisor should prepare a company accident report regarding your injury for their records. If they will not do so, write a letter stating the facts of your injury and give it to your supervisor. Note what day you do so – ideally, your supervisor will agree to sign a receipt acknowledging that they received your report. Make sure to keep a copy of the letter for yourself in a safe place, ideally at home.
Keep A Record Of Activities
If you have been injured at work, keeping a record of everything that happens can only benefit you. Should there be a reason to legally escalate the situation, all the information you have gathered becomes a powerful tool in defense of your rights.
Note any supervisors, insurance representatives, doctors, or other significant contacts you discuss your injury with. If you are a member of a union, inform your steward of your injury and that you reported the injury to your supervisor. Ask your doctor to provide a written list of any work activities they advise against you doing while you are injured; give a copy to your supervisor, and keep one for yourself.
Follow Doctor’s Orders
The doctor you see when you are injured on the job may vary based on your state. Some states will allow you to seek treatment from the doctor of your choice, and others require that you receive treatment from a company-approved doctor if you are seeking worker’s compensation. Inform your doctor of the details of your injury and how, specifically, it was caused by your work. Take care to follow all the medical directions the doctor gives you; if you do not follow your doctor’s advice, you may become ineligible for worker’s comp on the grounds that you chose not to get proper care and to remain injured.
Your doctor should bill your company directly for your care. (Note: if you are required to see a company-approved doctor and do not feel that you are getting proper care, seek legal counsel. Your lawyer will help you petition for effective medical care.)
3 Day Grace Period After Work Injury
Your employer may have the right to a 3-day “grace period” before paying your benefits if you miss work due to a work-related injury. If you are denied payment after that point, consult a lawyer. You have the right to be paid in a timely fashion while you are away from work due to a work-related injury, and you could be eligible for a penalty benefit of up to 150% of the amount owed if your company does not comply.
Steps To Take After Hurt At Work
It can be difficult to receive the care that you are owed when you are injured at work. From the beginning, make sure your injury, its cause, and any discussions you have regarding it are well documented. You may never have reason to use these records, but in the stressful aftermath of an accident or injury, you will be glad to have peace of mind knowing that you have the tools you need if necessary.
Following these steps will help guarantee that your rights are protected. If you are having difficulty getting the care you need from your company after you are hurt at work, or you are worried that your company will be uncooperative, seek the counsel of an experienced lawyer. An expert workers’ compensation attorney has the know-how and skill to ensure that anyone injured or mistreated in the course of their work is appropriately compensated.