You should file for workers’ compensation benefits immediately after being injured or diagnosed with a medical condition. The longer you delay, the greater the odds that your employer’s insurance carrier will have doubts and decide to deny your claim. In order to file, you must have been injured at work or during a job-related activity. Here’s how to determine whether your condition is severe enough to warrant benefits.
On the Job Accidents
Almost any injury that impacts your ability to work may entitle you to workers’ compensation. This can be anything from straining your back picking up a heavy box to falling from a scaffold. Injuries due to slippery surfaces or tripping over debris would also be covered. There may be gray areas, however. This relates to injuries caused while goofing off, violence, and particularly emotional stress. When you can’t work but your claim is rejected, contact a lawyer, such as those at Oxner + Permar, LLC, who specializes in workers’ compensation.
Injuries can also occur if you’re away from the company premises or job site, but still engaged in work or company-sponsored activities, such as purchasing or delivering supplies, cleaning up the area, or even twisting an ankle at the company picnic. The company is not liable for injuries sustained on your own time, such as commuting to or from work, or getting in an accident when you’ve gone out to lunch.
You can also develop chronic disorders related to your work that impact your ability to perform your duties or earn a living. These days, repetitive strain injuries (RSI) such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are common and warrant workers’ compensation. Other causes could include chemical fumes, airborne particle irritants, or exposure to known toxic or carcinogenic substances.
Your Own Negligence
Workers’ compensation is no-fault coverage. The above conditions apply even when the accident was due to your own carelessness. For instance, if you remove the safety rail from a machine and then get your hand injured, the company is still liable. In certain cases the company is not at fault. This is when the injury was self-inflicted, or you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
You should report any accidents immediately to your company in order to document the incident. Also make note of any witnesses who might support your case. Above all, see a doctor. If the physician concurs that you need time off to recover, you should file for benefits.
Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.