No matter what industry you work in or what job you do, there is always a chance that you could become injured at work. Sadly, that’s a fact of life, and ultimately, it is why nearly every employer in the country is required by state law to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for all their employees.
Hopefully, you won’t experience a work-related injury during your time in employment, but if you do, then there are a number of steps you need to follow in order to protect both your long-term health and your legal rights. You are able to contact employment lawyers such as Baird Quinn LLC to support you through this process.
Here’s what to do after an accident at work.
Make an accident report
You should always make an accident report, even if you don’t believe you are injured. Say you work in an office and you fall off your chair due to faulty equipment. At the time, the only thing that hurts might be your pride, but in a couple of days, you could find yourself suffering from chronic back pain as a result of the incident.
This is called delayed onset of pain, and it turns out that it is much more common than you’d think. In fact, delayed onset is in many instances more frequent than an immediate response to injury.
Many states have a very short period in which you must report an accident occurring in order to be covered under worker’s compensation. That is why you should always report an accident, even if you don’t appear to be injured. Should an injury or symptoms flare up later, then the incident is already logged, and you won’t have damaged your chances of receiving compensation. The other reason to report every accident is that it can help your employer improve workplace health and safety standards. Before you fell off your chair, they might not have been aware that there was a problem with the equipment. By letting them know what has happened, they can check every chair in the office for faults, and you will be potentially helping yourself or a colleague avoid suffering a similar accident again in the future.
Visit a medical professional
Following an accident at work, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. If the injury is serious, then to go to the emergency room. If not, then ask your employer if they have a specific medical expert they’d like you to see or if you can visit one of your own choosing.
If your employee chooses the doctor that you see, and you aren’t happy with their diagnoses or treatment, then you can always seek a second opinion with your own doctor. In some cases, workers’ compensation laws will even cover the cost of doing so. Should it not, then you need to consider whether it is worth paying for it out of your own pocket. If you’ve been misdiagnosed by a doctor who believes you to have suffered no significant injuries, then you could experience long term problems in terms of your health by aggravating the problem and financially by not receiving the compensation you are entitled to.
According to one study, at least one in every 20 US adults is misdiagnosed every year. That’s 12 million people! When you consider statistics like that, a second opinion suddenly seems like an investment worth mulling over.
Report an injury to your employer as soon as it is discovered
It’s your employers’ responsibility to submit a workers’ compensation claim to their insurance company on your behalf, but they won’t know to do this unless you inform them about any injury that you have suffered.
You might have reported the accident to them, but if you have suffered from any delayed onset of pain, then you also need to let your employer know about that as soon as possible.
Be sure to follow up with your employer to ensure that the claim has been submitted. You are entitled to a copy of the paperwork, which you should always ask for as this is a vital document in your quest for compensation.
Know what workers’ compensation laws provide you with
It’s important to know what workers’ compensation provides you with. In every state apart from Texas, the laws say that most employers have to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for every single one of the employees. In exchange for doing so, the laws also offer some protection to businesses by stating that employees cannot sue their employers over workplace injuries, except for in a few circumstances.
With workers’ compensation, most of the power is in the employee’s hands. You don’t have to prove that it was the employer’s negligence that caused the injury and you could even be compensated if the accident that occurred was your own fault.
There are some rare instances when you won’t be entitled to compensation, such as if the incident took place when you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because of this, some employers will ask you to undergo a drugs test after an accident.
If you aren’t happy with the process, contact an attorney
As good as the workers’ compensation process is, there will always be occasions when it isn’t enough. It’s at that point that you need to consider contacting a personal injury specialist attorney such as those at the Keith Williams Law Group.
Any time that you end up in dispute with the insurance company, you should consider getting a lawyer involved. It could be because your claim is denied, you’re having trouble getting the treatment that you need for your injury or your ability to work has been affected, and as such, you need to structure your workers’ compensation benefits in such a way that you are covered into the future.
If you have a preexisting medical condition, then an attorney will almost certainly be needed. Sadly, many insurance companies will try and use problems that were there before you suffered an accident at work to claim that these are not new injuries but rather the result of an existing condition.
That can make gaining compensation an uphill battle without the services of an attorney, who can help you get the payout you are entitled to.