Rarely does anyone ever go into work with the expectation that they will departing to a hospital in the middle of their shift. Yet, that is the reality for approximately 333,800 people each year. Workplaces of all kinds have unique risks that each employee must be aware of upon clocking in for another shift. Awareness can’t always prevent these incidents from happening, though. If you have recently been injured at work, there are several essential steps to follow when filing your claim for worker’s compensation.
Nationwide, employers are generally required to be covered by a worker’s compensation package. Although there are exceptions to this legal obligation, if you work for a company that employs three or more people, you can reasonably expect coverage by this policy. (That is, assuming that these three or more people are not independent contractors.) Under your state’s worker protection laws, you have the right to…:
- Receive medical attention and have those bills compensated.
- To file a claim under worker’s compensation.
- To have all incurred damages covered. This includes:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Bodily injury
- To return to work once you are in healthy, capable condition. Your employer cannot coerce you into not filing a worker’s compensation claim or retaliate if you do.
- To appeal any unfair decisions or settlements offered by the worker’s compensation commission.
To defend and exercise these rights in the aftermath of your injury, follow the steps below:
- Report the injury to your employer immediately. Although the average time limit for reporting an injury is 10 days, it’s best to do so right after the incident. Waiting any longer will cause your employer to question whether you incurred the injury on the clock or not.
- Seek medical attention. You must obtain documentation that supports your claim. By visiting a physician, you can prove that you were telling the truth about your injuries, as your experience will be supported by an expert’s evaluation of your physical condition.
- Monitor the lost work hours and wages. Again, it is your right to be compensated for any hours, and thus, wages, you did not receive while you were receiving medical treatment for your injuries.
- Hire a lawyer. Unfortunately, your employer may not be entirely willing to work with you in your case. Given that some injuries can be rather expensive to compensate, your company may be skeptical of your claim, or attempt to dissuade you from filing altogether. In such an instance, you would greatly benefit from having legal assistance.
Additional Factors to Consider When Filing a Worker’s Compensation Claim
As you seek medical attention for your injuries, you may not be allowed to see your personal physician for the purposes of your claim. Some employers will have paid for a recruited doctor, and this is the one you will be seeing after your incident. However, this rule only extends for a maximum of 30 days, then you will free to see your physician.
You should start raising red flags if your employer asks for a second opinion, since second-opinion exams are not required to be carried out by a Board-certified doctor or an individual with medical expertise. You must exercise your right to bring your own physician to these exams, and to have the defense of a personal injury lawyer. Only then can you be sure that you will receive the necessary compensation to assure you a full recovery.