It doesn’t matter if you’re a construction worker or an office worker, there are potential hazards that come with every job. As a result, most employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance so that employees can be fairly compensated for their on-the-job injuries without having to file a lawsuit.
Nevertheless, you’re only eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you quickly report your injury and correctly do everything that’s required of you during the workers’ compensation process. Even then, sometimes insurance companies incorrectly deny or undervalue claims.
To ensure that you give yourself the best opportunity to claim all the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed, here are five things you should do if you’ve been injured on the job.
Inform Your Employer of Your Injury
Depending on the severity of your injury, the first thing you should do after getting injured on the job is inform your employer.
Workers’ compensation insurance is no-fault, so you can report any injury you sustained on the job without fear, even if you made a mistake that caused your injury. You should also not be concerned about retaliation from your employer because punitive actions for reporting an injury — such as a pay cut or demotion — are illegal.
When you report your injury, you should relate as many details as possible about the accident, including names of witnesses, how it was caused, the location, and when it happened. If your injury developed over time — known as a repetitive stress injury — document how your work contributed to your injury and be sure to report it to your employer as soon as you notice it.
Common repetitive stress injuries you may be able to receive workers’ compensation for include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Lumbar injuries
- Disc injuries
- Stress fractures
Seek Medical Treatment
If you’ve sustained a work-related injury, you and your family’s number one concern is likely your health. Seek treatment from your own doctor if you suspect a repetitive stress injury, and report your injury if you and your doctor think your injury may be work related. If your injury happened during a sudden accident at work — like the man who received $1.5 million in compensation after he was injured when a crane operator dropped a heavy hammer bell on his head while he was on a barge installing docks — don’t hesitate to seek medical treatment immediately.
Once you begin the workers’ compensation process, the insurance company may ask you to submit to an independent medical examination (IME) from a doctor of its choosing. This examination will go a long way to determining the compensation the insurance company thinks you deserve. If you believe the insurance company has undervalued your claim, and the doctor who performed your IME misrepresented your injuries, you will likely need to hire an attorney to file appeal.
Follow the Doctor’s Instructions
While you should never deviate from a doctor's instructions, it’s especially important not to during the workers’ compensation process. Not following their instructions closely may give the insurance company grounds to dismiss or undervalue your claim.
This means you must attend all of your doctor appointments, take all prescribed medications, follow treatment guidelines, and only do jobs at work that are permitted.
File Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Quickly
Depending on the state you live in and the workers’ compensation insurance policy your employer has, you may be required to file a workers’ compensation claim in as few as 30 days after you learned of your injury.
Regardless of your jurisdiction’s rules, you should try and notify your employer of your injury immediately so they can notify the insurance company and begin the workers’ compensation process. Don’t lose out on compensation for your work-related injury because of a technicality.
Consult A Workers’ Compensation Attorney If Your Claim is Denied
In an ideal world, you would receive sufficient compensation for your injuries if you followed all the steps mentioned above. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and insurance companies wrongfully deny and undervalue claims. If you believe your claim was undervalued or wrongfully denied, you may want to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help appeal your claim.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys would like to hear from you if you’ve been injured on the job and are beginning the workers’ compensation process, or if would like to appeal the decision on a claim you already filed. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn more about how our attorneys may be able to help.