Being injured at work is always a stressful experience. No matter how careful and well-trained you are at your job, accidents happen that are sometimes out of our control.
Even though companies employ strict work safety practices, they can’t protect their employees from everything. To add to this, human error is also difficult to control.
Believe it or not, you’re not doing yourself or your employer any favors by not reporting a work-related accident. So, here’s how you should handle accidents at work…
Workplace accidents are incredibly common and account for over 5,000 work-related deaths every year.
While workplace accidents don’t always result in a fatality, construction accidents comprise most industry-related deaths.
Other common workplace injuries are related to:
The good news is that if you fall victim to a workplace injury, you can claim for your pain and suffering- so long as the accident was reported! Here are a few important steps to take when injured at work:
Even if you feel fine after a work-related accident, you should still get a check-up with a doctor. Whether your injury seems serious or not, failing to get a check-up can have dire consequences. Not only on your health but also your grounds for a compensation claim.
There are a number of injury symptoms that may not appear right away, such as those with a concussion. It’s best to be examined by a doctor, instead of waiting for symptoms to appear.
Additionally, your condition could worsen over time, making it all-the-more difficult for a doctor to treat. The sooner you seek medical attention, the higher your chances of a full and speedy recovery.
If you are a federal employee, you are most likely covered by the FECA. Here you may be able to select your own doctor for treatment, but could be restricted with certain specialists.
However, if you are not a federal employee, you will have to consult with your employer’s selected doctor.
Generally, you’re only required to see your company doctor for a period of 30-days whereafter you can choose your own physician.
Once you have seen a medical professional and documented any injuries sustained from the accident, you must report it in writing.
Some states require written notice to your supervisor regarding the accident, others only require a verbal statement. But, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so you should always put it down in writing anyway.
It’s worth remembering that many states have strict statute-of-limitations i.e. a timeline in which you have to report the accident. If your accident is not reported in this timeframe, you could hold no grounds for a worker’s compensation claim.
If you are well and able enough to visit the scene of your accident and gather evidence, it’s important to do so. This includes photos and descriptions of equipment, machinery, tools, and other objects involved.
Make sure to photograph your injuries and any damage sustained to the clothing and protective equipment you were wearing at the time. To be safe, do not wash your clothing from the day of the accident, keep them in their original condition.
Try and gather statements and other bits of evidence from witnesses at the scene of the accident, if possible. Remember to ask them for their contact information in case they need to verify their statements.
Make a note of security cameras in the area and whether they captured any clear footage of your accident, which can also be used as evidence.
Finally, always keep copies of all your medical records from every single doctor’s visit. Keep a record of doctor’s bills, specialist visits, medication costs, and additional therapy costs.
If your injury gets progressively worse over time, such as swelling or bruising, document this with photos.
Filing a worker’s compensation claim is not to be confused with filing a lawsuit against your employer. Just like an insurance claim, it’s merely a request for benefits to ease your suffering and medical expenses.
Once your employer learns of your accident, they should offer you a worker’s compensation claim form immediately. In fact, this form should be readily available in the employer’s doctor’s office or hospital emergency room.
Once you have completed the ”Employee” section, return the form to your employer. If you choose to mail it, make sure you go with certified mail and a return receipt. Remember that your employer is under no obligation to offer you compensation until your claim is filed.
If you reported a work-related accident but didn’t realize you were injured at the time, make sure to report your injuries as soon as you notice them. Then remember to follow up with your employer about the progress of your claim.
Ask for your own copy of the claim and keep it in a safe place.
If you have a complicated claim or feel like you are a little out-of-your-depth with submitting for compensation, there are professionals who can help.
Consult a worker’s compensation attorney who has experience in handling a wide variety of claims. Initial consultation with an attorney is usually free-of-charge. Essentially, this will help you to understand the extent of the benefits you’re entitled to.
To learn more about accidents at work and how to handle your own case, stay up-to-date with our selection of news stories and helpful articles.
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