According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, private industry employers reported 2.8 million cases of workplace injuries and illnesses in 2018. This number doesn’t seem to be declining for the past couple of years. Workplace injuries can happen for a few reasons.
Either the employer hasn’t provided the employees with a safe work environment, or employees get injured despite every taken precaution to make the workplace safe. The injuries might vary from just a few bruises and scratches to more serious ones like broken bones. Follow the four steps in this article to help you navigate your occupational injury.
Notify Your Supervisor
If your injuries aren’t severe, notifying your supervisor should be the first step because they might have a specific protocol in place in case these things happen. The type of notice for the employer can either be verbal, or it can be required by the state to be submitted in writing. To be completely safe and have proof, it’s recommended to report any kind of injury in writing.
Another very important reason to notify your supervisor is because of the statute of limitations. Workers’ compensation statutes of limitations dictate the length of time in which you must file a claim for the benefits and the deadline to inform your employer. The former is much shorter and usually lasts for one or two months, instead of the deadline for claiming benefits, which can be for up to two years. These two deadlines should be paid attention because they vary from state to state.
Protect Yourself and File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation claim is not a lawsuit against your employer. It’s a petition for benefits. Filing this type of claim is pretty much the same as filing any other insurance claim. The first step is notifying your employer because they are obligated to offer you a claim form the very second they learn of your accident. They should also be able to provide you with the forms necessary to file this claim. If this is not possible, most states require emergency rooms to have these forms on hand. It’s very important to complete the claim form as soon as possible because the employer is not obliged to provide you with benefits until done so.
Another critical thing to look out for is negligence. Almost every injury lawsuit uses negligence to disprove you were injured at work, and this is why it’s so important to hire legal professionals to protect yourself. They can also reconstruct the accident and collect witness statements. This brings us to our next step.
Make Records of Your Accident
The smart thing to do is to make as detailed notes as possible of the accident that took place. Write down every little detail that you can remember or deem necessary. Take photos of the cause of your injury and the injury itself.
Make sure you write down the names of all the people who witnessed your accident as you might need them for future reference. You can even ask them to make their notes of the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
However, if your injuries are too severe, do not hesitate to seek medical attention! Under the FECA (Federal Employees’ Compensation Act), you may select a doctor of your choice if you are a federal employee. However, if you aren’t a federal employee, some states will allow you to see your physician only if you make this request before any accidents had happened. The typical procedure by many employers is to refer their injured employees to a physician who is paid by the company itself. Unless there’s an emergency, the assigned physician must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board.
Make sure to tell the doctor exactly what happened, including any symptoms you might have. Also, make sure your assigned physician is compiling a written report and make sure not to mention any previous medical issues that are in no way related or the cause of your workplace injuries as it can be used to undermine your case.
Sometimes it can happen that your employer will disagree with how you got injured or that you even got injured at work, so it’s very important to have an incident report and a list of names to set the record straight and to protect yourself. If you were injured at work, completing these four steps is crucial. Make sure to set a legal team behind you, which can advise you on how to complete the procedure or even do some of the steps for you. The faster they are completed, the sooner you can focus on your recovery.