The workers compensation system is so complicated, many people never even bother applying in the first place.
If you are the victim of a work related injury, you may feel overwhelmed. Unemployment is one of the most stressful situations in life, but when you’re out of work and dealing with the aftermath of a workplace injury, your stress levels can go through the roof.
While many people are eager to get back on the job ASAP, before you return to work it is important to take some proactive steps to ensure your safety down the line. And we aren’t just talking about your physical safety, either.
After a work injury, there are specific things you need to do to protect your career, your health, and your legal situation, especially if you intend to file for workers compensation or a civil injury claim. But while you might be an expert at your job, few people are trained on what to do after suffering a work injury. Because if you don’t look out for yourself, no one will.
Here are four steps you need to take in the first month after being injured at work:
1. File an accident report
Before anything else, it is absolutely vital that you report the incident and have it properly documented. This is so you can determine if you are covered under workers compensation, and for your manager to understand that you have been accidentally injured. No matter how close you are with your boss, never assume they will handle this for you.
As any work injury attorney will tell you, these accident reports have a funny way of disappearing or downplaying serious work injuries. Plus, if you decide to file a lawsuit down the line, it will be hard to do so without proper documentation of the accident. Even after a simple slip and fall accident, always be sure to file a report! In fact, 85% of worker compensation claims are attributed to a slip and fall work injury.
Don’t just “walk it off.” If you do, you’re only hurting yourself more.
2. Visit a doctor
While you should obviously receive emergency medical care as needed following an injury, that shouldn’t be the last time you visit a doctor. In addition to emergency care, you will also need to get a proper diagnosis.
If you are not seriously injured but still require medical care, make sure to ask if your employer has a specific doctor they would like you to see. If you do not feel as if your needs were met, you are entitled under workers compensation law to get a second opinion at the expense of your company.
3. File a workers compensation claim
Once you have a proper diagnosis from a medical professional, you then will be able to file an injury claim. When you do this, make sure to notify your employer immediately so they can potentially give you a settlement offer immediately.
Remember: you are entitled to a copy of the claim for your own personal records.
4. Contact a work injury lawyer
If you run into problems, any problems, then it is a good idea to contact a work injury attorney.
The workers compensation process is a twisted, bureaucratic labyrinth filled with red tape, delays, reports, hearings, and an endless number of complications. A work injury attorney will help you navigate this complicated legal system. They can also help you decide if a civil personal injury lawsuit would be a better option for you to pursue the compensation you need to be made whole again.
There may also be unique requirements or laws relevant to your situation. For instance, The Jones Act is a maritime law that covers workers at sea, like offshore oil rig workers. Then there’s the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), which specifies not only that injured workers meet strict reporting deadlines, but also requires them to submit a claim with the federal government. A work injury lawyer can make sure you’re aware of potential issues like these.
The best work injury attorneys will have your personal well being in mind and will fight for what you deserve. Many workers don’t realize they can receive compensation for missed work opportunities (the average slip and fall injury results in 30 days of missed work), any money spent on legal counsel, and other expenses.
Looking for a lawyer? Call the work injury law firm Zehl and Associates today!