Being injured in the workplace or while on the job can bring your life to a screeching halt, especially if the injury is serious and permanent. Life as you know it can drastically change in a moment when you’re injured on the job. Workplace injuries occur every day in the United States, and while some are much more serious than others, workplace accidents can change your life in ways you never before imagined.
If you have an office job in which you’re sedentary most of the day, you may not think about being injured at work very often, if at all, but if you have a job that requires manual labor, traveling, or putting yourself in dangerous situations, you may have wondered how your life would change if you were hurt. One of the most important factors to keep in mind as you go about your workday is that in the unfortunate event that you are injured on the job, you must follow very specific steps if you expect to be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The 411 on Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ Compensation is a government program whose purpose is providing injured workers with monetary compensation for their medical bills and lost wages after being injured on the job. But Workers’ Compensation is one of the most complex, comprehensive, and stringent government programs available in the United States. There are very strict rules and regulations that injured workers, their employers, and medical professionals must follow in order for compensation to be granted.
Think of Workers’ Compensation as a form of accident insurance paid by employers but with no payroll deductions being taken out of employees’ pay for this insurance. If you’re injured on the job or acquire a work-related illness, workers’ comp will pay your medical expenses, and if you can’t work, it will also cover wage-loss compensation until you’re able to return to work.
Under many states’ Workers’ Compensation laws, injured workers have rights to medical care, temporary disability pay, and permanent disability pay even if you were at fault for the accident (this particular aspect of the law varies from state to state). Under Workers’ Comp law, employers are required to carry insurance for workplace accidents and injuries, and the insurance companies are liable to workers injured in the workplace or while in the job.
What to Do Following Your Injury
Follow these steps following a workplace injury to improve the chances of having your Workers’ Compensation claim approved:
Notify your employer immediately of your accident and injury. Most employers will have paperwork to fill out on site, or if you’re off site, that paperwork can be emailed or faxed to you that very same day. If you do not notify your employer of your injury, your claim will most likely be denied. You cannot delay notification to your employer; it must be done within a certain amount of time, and that time frame is usually quite short.
Get treatment for your injury. You will need to seek medical attention regardless of the nature of your injury. Even if you feel the injury does not warrant medical attention, you must see a physician. In many states, employers are required to post a notice to employees at the work site that advises them of the doctors the employer uses to treat injured workers. Find out from your employer where you should seek treatment if you don’t see this information posted at the job site.
Notify your doctor immediately that the injury is work related. After doing this, you cannot receive a bill for medical treatment.
Keep your medical records. It’s crucial that you keep track of all medical visits during your treatment. Your attorney will get this information for your case, but it’s important that you keep a detailed journal of your medical treatments from the moment the injury occurs.
Submit a Workers’ Compensation claim form. Your employer must receive a claim form within 24 hours of your injury in most states. Fill out your part and then submit it your employer, and he or she will fill out their part. Your employer will submit the form to Workers’ Comp, and the insurer will assign a claims administrator to manage your claim. Submitting the claim form in a timely manner helps to assure you receive benefits owed to you.
Get legal advice. Find an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer you can trust and who will work hard to get you the compensation you so rightly deserve following a workplace accident and injury.