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What Are Your Rights if You Were to Get Injured at Work?

What Are Your Rights if You Were to Get Injured at Work?

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What Are Your Rights if You Were to Get Injured at Work?

In 2020, private industry employers reported 2.7 million workplace injuries and illnesses, according to a news release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 2.7 cases per 100 full-time employees. In 2019, there were 5,333 fatal work injuries. On-the-job injuries take a devastating toll on workers and their families because it impacts every facet of life, physical, emotional, and of course, financial. However, most employers are mandated by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance which is designed to provide immediate relief for medical costs, vocational rehabilitation, and wage replacement benefits. 

Unfortunately, it’s not an easy process, and complications usually don’t benefit the injured party. These complications typically occur when you’ve been injured severely or have preexisting conditions that were exacerbated by the injury. That’s where we can help. If you’ve been injured at work and have difficulty getting the compensation you deserve, contact us for a free case evaluation. Our workers’ compensation lawyers can define, “what are your rights if you get injured at work” and develop a strategy to fight back. 

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FAQ

What Are Your Rights if You Were to Get Injured at Work? - FAQs

  • What is a workplace injury?

    The U.S. Department of Labor defines a workplace injury as follows: 

    “Basic requirement. You must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment unless an exception in §1904.5(b)(2) specifically applies.”

    Workplace injuries can happen suddenly, as in a slip and fall accident or being struck by moving machinery. Some workplace injuries develop over time from repetitive stress, overexertion, or long-term exposure to hazardous substances like asbestos which can develop into mesothelioma.

    Qualifying for a workers’ compensation claim requires that the employee was injured on the clock, no illegal activity was in progress, the injury was reported to a supervisor quickly, and the claim was filed in accordance with the deadline of your state. 

    Here are a few examples of what would not qualify as a workplace injury:

    • You slipped in the icy parking lot before clocking in and broke your arm trying to stop your fall
    • Another coworker hits you with their car pulling into the parking lot before clocking in 
    • You get into a crash and receive a concussion while picking up your lunch from the deli

    There are exceptions, of course. Suppose that you’re the receptionist at an office and that part of your duties are to pick up lunch for the entire office once a month to celebrate meeting a sales quota. While on the way to the restaurant, you get into a car crash and get injured. In that case, you’d likely be covered under workers’ compensation. 

    Another example could be if you’re required to travel to perform your duties. Suppose you’re wining and dining with a client, and a server spills a boiling hot soup in your lap that causes severe burns. In that case, it may be possible to get workers’ compensation insurance to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. When it comes to qualifying for a workers’ compensation claim, a great deal depends on where and when the accident occurred. 

  • What are your rights if you get injured at work?

    Depending on which state you live in, workers’ compensations laws will vary. Your rights as an injured employee differ just as much as the law, depending on your location. However, some rights will be common throughout most of the country, such as:

    • Your right to file a claim for your injury in workers’ compensation court or the industrial court
    • Your right to seek medical treatment
    • Your right to return to work upon release by your doctor
    • You have the right to disability wage replacement should you be unable to return to work either temporarily or permanently
    • You have a right to appeal decisions if you disagree with your employer, your employer’s insurance company, or the workers’ compensation court resolution on your claim
    • You have a right to have a lawyer represent your interests

    While it’s important to understand the rights you have to seek medical care and compensation, you should also understand your rights to refuse some requests and offers such as using your own healthcare for treatment or entreaties by your employer to forgo filing a workers’ comp claim in exchange for some benefit. In fact, the latter is illegal.

    Most importantly, you have the right to pursue a claim for your workplace injury without the fear of harassment. When employers use scare tactics like threatening to fire you or demote you for exercising your legal rights, they can face harsh repercussions from a lawsuit for retaliation. A successful workplace retaliation lawsuit can result in compensation for lost wages, lost benefits, and possibly even punitive damages, which can be substantial. 

  • What if I’m injured from defective equipment or another third-party entity?

    Not all workplace injuries are in the express domain of workers’ compensation law. If you were injured by faulty equipment or the negligence of a third-party contractor, you might be able to pursue compensation through a civil lawsuit. For example, let’s say a valve bursts, and you get burned from hot steam. The valve may have been faulty, and you may be able to file a claim for product liability against the manufacturer of the part or even the installation company. 

    A civil lawsuit could be filed in conjunction with a workers’ comp claim if the workers’ compensation claim doesn’t adequately compensate for the pain and suffering of your injury. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident. That’s why it’s critical to reach out to one of our workers’ compensation lawyers to assess your options. 

  • How do I file a claim if I get injured at work?

    When you’re injured at work, the first thing you should do is alert a supervisor or report it to Human Resources. Ask for a workplace injury report form and a workers’ comp claim form, although these forms may be available online in some states. Be sure to document everything in as much detail as possible, including the date and time of the injury, record any witnesses, and get copies of all documentation. 

    See a doctor as soon as possible after your injury because delaying can undermine the legitimacy of your claim. Some injuries are more complicated than others. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a repetitive action injury, so if you start to feel hand numbness, pins and needles sensations, hand weakness, or wrist weakness, take action right away to prevent permanent nerve damage. 

    How carpal tunnel syndrome is handled varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and will be a compensable disability depending on whether it’s viewed as an injury or an occupational disease. The burden of proof for carpal tunnel syndrome depends on how the syndrome is characterized and can be quite complex.

    Most employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance, with a few exceptions. Requirements vary by the state, the industry, and even the size of the business. Employers that are exempt from carrying workers’ comp insurance employ farm workers, domestic servants in a home, and casual laborers, but when you have a question, be sure to talk to one of our lawyers. 

  • What are common workplace injuries that could be covered through workers’ compensation?

    Lacerations- Deep cuts are quite common, especially in specific industries like the restaurant industry, manufacturing, and machine shops.

    Sprains and strains- Stretched and torn ligaments frequently occur in all industries but particularly where heavy lifting is required. 

    Burns- A burn can be caused by open flames, heated elements such as stoves, electricity, steam, or exposure to chemicals. 

    Eye injuries- An eye injury at work can happen at any time but is common in industries like construction, manufacturing, mining, plumbing, electrical, welding, maintenance, and car repair. 

    Fractures- A bone fracture can happen in any workplace but is most common when the job involves manual labor or heavy equipment operation.

    Continuous trauma- The repetition of tasks over a long period of time can cause injury such as carpal tunnel. However, it’s most common in industries where there is consistent manual labor.
     

  • What if my workers’ comp claim is denied?

    Workers’ comp insurance is meant to protect workers from financial hardships when injured at work, but it’s also meant to protect employers from being sued. When your claim is rejected, it can be devastating, particularly if you’re the primary breadwinner in your household. Here are some common reasons your claim may be rejected:

    • You’re considered an independent contractor
    • You’re a farmworker
    • You’re a seasonal worker
    • You are domestic labor such as a housekeeper or nanny
    • You are an undocumented worker
    • You failed to report your injury within your state’s time limitation
    • You missed an important deadline
    • You were not hurt on the job
    • You were under the influence when the injury occurred
    • Your employer disputes your injury
    • Your medical condition isn’t covered under workers’ comp insurance (such as mental health issues)
    • Your injury is minor

    Just because you are denied initially doesn’t mean you have no recourse. If you receive a denial notification, you can appeal as long as it’s within the deadline for your state. Every state has its own process, but you can request an administrative hearing with the workers’ compensation appeals board if you disagree with their decision. A judge will hear your evidence, and at this point, we highly suggest you have legal representation because a lot is at stake. 

  • Our attorneys are ready to fight for your rights when you get injured at work

    At Morgan & Morgan, we’ve been fighting hard-nosed insurance companies and unethical employers for decades. We’ve seen it all during that time, especially how hard insurance companies struggle to minimize and deny legitimate claims. While the process of fighting a denied claim can be frustrating, our experienced attorneys can make it easier for you and allow you to recover from your workplace injury in peace and with the knowledge that help is on the way. 

    We can help you recover lost wages and medical bills and be an advocate for your rights. Because we understand this is a difficult time financially, we don’t accept payment until we win your case for you. At this point, you have nothing to lose by filling out our free case evaluation form to allow us to review your claim. Get started today.

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