According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, there were around 2.9 million workplace injuries and illnesses that were nonfatal.
The average time taken off work due to illness was eight days. The total cost for workplace injuries in the US was $161.5 billion dollars in 2017.
Per employee, that’s $1,100.
As an employee, it’s important to know your rights if you’ve been involved in a work accident. Knowing what steps to take can help you get back on your feet faster.
It also ensures you don’t lose out on the benefits you deserve. Keep reading to learn what to do if you’ve been injured on the job.
Report the Work Accident to Your Employer
If the workplace injury is life-threatening, seek immediate medical care first. However, as soon as possible, report the work injury to your employer.
Even if you think your injuries are minor, report it to your employer. This could help your employer to implement new safety measures to prevent further injuries from happening to anyone in the future.
Also, filing a report provides you with protection if you begin experiencing symptoms from your injuries weeks or even months after the incident.
Report the Injury Within 10 Days
You do have 10 days to report the injury, but reporting it sooner rather than later is in your best interests. Make sure you are very specific and clear about when and how the workplace injury occurred.
Get an Accident Report
When your employer is notified that an employee injured at work has to miss three or more days of work, your employer then has 10 days to submit an Employer’s First Report to the Worker’s Compensation Commission (WCC). This report will begin the statute of limitations for submitting your claim.
Each state has its own form and its own set of guidelines and time limits. Make sure you receive a copy of the report and place it somewhere for safekeeping.
Seek Medical Treatment
As soon as you’re able, notify the doctor treating you that your injury is work-related. Make sure the physician records this information in your medical notes, starting with your initial visit.
Thoroughly describe what caused your injury and any symptoms you’re experiencing. This should include any restricted abilities or pain.
Reporting Your Workplace Injury Makes It Hard for Insurance to Deny Your Claim
This is to prevent your employer or worker’s compensation insurance company from denying the claim. However, you may also be required to see a doctor chosen by your employer as well to determine that the initial doctor’s method of treatment and diagnosis are both reasonable and necessary.
You will not be forced to allow the employer’s physician to treat you.
WCC Has a Fee Schedule Your Doctor Must Adhere to
This is because the WCC’s fee schedule provides an outline of how much a doctor can charge the insurance provider for certain services. The doctor you seek medical treatment for must be willing to accept payment under that fee schedule.
Otherwise, you’re the one responsible for paying the remainder of the medical bills.
Keep All Your Medical Appointments
Your doctor can determine if your injury prevents you from being able to return to work and will inform your employer if you have any limitations. Always continue seeing your doctor and making each appointment until you are fully healed.
Carefully follow your doctor’s orders.
Failure to do so could be a sign by the insurance company that your injuries are not as severe as you’re making them out to be.
Keep Careful Records
Keep all copies of medical records and medical bills you receive. You should also keep a record of any out-of-pocket payments you may have as a direct result of your injuries.
You should also keep a diary that notes any missed days of work you have and any travel you needed to make for doctor’s appointments, etc.
Record Any Interactions With Company or Insurance Representatives
Along with keeping a diary of missed work and medical expenses, keep a record of any conversations you have with significant employer representatives and/or their insurance company.
- Exactly what was said during the conversation
- Who was present during the conversation
This information can be used as evidence if your worker’s compensation is denied or delayed. It’s a good idea to keep the same type of records for conversations with anyone who is impacting the treatment of your workplace injury, including medical professionals.
Contact a Lawyer
It’s a smart idea to contact a short term disability insurance lawyer to help you sort everything out. Being injured is stressful, especially if the injuries are serious.
Things can get complicated and it’s best to work with a professional attorney who specializes in disability to help you sort everything out. They’ll work to ensure you fill out all forms properly and help you receive proper compensation for your injuries.
What You Can’t Do
Except in Texas, there are laws in every state that require most employers to have worker’s compensation insurance. This law also means that employees can’t sue employers for any injuries sustained at work.
However, employees also don’t have to prove their employer’s negligence is what caused their injury. Even if you caused the injury yourself, you’re still entitled to compensation.
Exceptions to Worker’s Comp Coverage
However, if you were using illegal substances or were drunk at the time the injury occurred, you won’t be covered by worker’s comp. You also aren’t covered during your commute or if you were involved in a workplace fight or horseplay.
The only exception to this rule is that you have the right to sue for negligence is if you were exposed to asbestos.
Knowledge Is Power
Whether you’re involved in a work accident, a lawsuit or some other type of legal matter, knowledge is power. The more you learn about the proper steps to take, the better you can protect yourself.
Our online law magazine has tons of articles to help you learn more about the legal process. Keep coming back to read our latest legal articles.