Getting injured at work is traumatizing, especially if someone else’s negligence caused the injury. If this has happened to you, you are likely concerned about your recovery, employment, and ability to provide for your family. After being injured on the job, there are some steps you should take to protect your legal rights.
Officially Report the Accident
In most states, you have to file an accident report before a short deadline if you are going to be covered by workers’ compensation. Therefore, you should report all accidents that happen on the job.
Even if the accident happens and you are not injured, filing a report could encourage your employer to enact new safety measures, thereby preventing future accidents. Additionally, promptly filing a notice protects you in the event your symptoms do not appear for weeks or months after the accident.
Some employers tell their employees that they do not need to report the injury. They may encourage employees to use their health insurance to cover the injury. That is a bad idea. Workers’ comp covers co-pays and disability benefits. It offers weekly workers’ compensation payments. Personal or work health insurance does not.
Consult a Physician
You should consult a doctor immediately after a workplace accident. Even if the injury does not require you to get emergency care, ask your employer if you are required to see a doctor to be eligible for workers’ compensation insurance and if you have the freedom to choose the doctor you visit.
In most states, workers’ compensation law entitles you to a second opinion if you are not happy with how things went while visiting the doctor your employer chose for you. Even if workers’ compensation will not cover the expense of the doctor, it is probably worth it for you to pay out-of-pocket. Depending on how extensive your injuries are, you could lose tens of thousands of dollars in benefits by not having an independent doctor evaluate your case.
Exclusions to Workers’ Compensation
Not every workplace accident entitles you to workers’ compensation. For example, if you were engaged in horseplay, under the influence of alcohol, or using illegal substances at the time of the accident, workers’ comp may not cover your injuries. Most employers require their employees to take drug testing if they were involved in workplace accidents.
Workplace injuries are traumatic. You can minimize the negative effect of workplace injuries by taking steps to protect your legal rights and ensuring you get the compensation you are due. Whether this is by seeking legal representation or doing what’s required of you for the insurance company to sign off on your benefits, it’s important to know both what’s needed of you and what you need to recover properly and comfortably.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.