Work injuries can arise at any time and are often completely unexpected. That leaves the injured worker in a state of high stress, often wondering what to do to address the injury.
Worries about whether or not you’ll be able to return to work, whether you could be at risk of losing your job, and how your injuries might heal all begin to flood in. What is often overlooked is the need to take steps to secure your workers’ comp claim.
While it is understandable that the legal aspects of an injury are often not at the top of the list after sustaining an injury, those needs should definitely be addressed as swiftly as possible. The following information is provided in the hopes of giving you an outline of what to do in the immediate aftermath of a workplace injury.
What should I do immediately after a workplace injury?
The first step you should take is to secure your immediate safety. If you are positioned in a way that could allow for additional harm, move to a safer location immediately. If your injuries are severe or if you have uncontrolled bleeding, visibly broken bones, or shortness of breath, ask someone nearby to call for emergency medical help.
As soon as you are in a safe location and have taken care of any emergency care needs, the next step is to report the incident to your supervisor. It’s a good idea to do this in writing as well as verbally, so you have documentation of the report. Don’t put this step off or wait to gather more information, as notification is often the act that triggers a workers’ compensation claim.
Does it matter where I get medical care?
Your health is and always should be the top priority, but where you get your medical care after a workplace injury can make a difference in the outcome of your workers’ comp claim. If your injuries require emergency treatment, there is no need to worry about where that treatment is obtained; simply allow the emergency medical personnel to transport you to the nearest hospital. Some workplace injuries can require surgery and any delay can sometimes exacerbate the injury. Be especially careful if you have hurt your back or neck. Not seeking medical attention immediately can turn a minor injury into a major one and could even leave you needing spine surgery.
Of course, if your injury is not so serious, go to the doctor or medical facility your employer suggests. You can always see your doctor or seek a second opinion down the road.
How do I file a workers’ compensation claim?
Filing a worker’s comp claim is important, as it provides the information necessary to begin the process of collecting the benefits, you’re entitled to under state law. When you notify your employer of the injury, you should be offered the proper paperwork, and if not, don’t hesitate to ask for the forms needed to file your claim. Most hospitals, doctor’s offices, and urgent care centers also have copies of the proper forms on hand. If you are unsure about how to complete these forms, a skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help with your workers’ comp claim.
Filing a workers’ comp claim is nothing more than a request for benefits, similar to the process of filing for any other type of insurance benefit. That said, insurance providers are businesses, not non-profit organizations. This means that the way your claim will be handled is not always based on a shared goal of ensuring you get everything you are entitled to. That’s why it is so important to work with a skilled workers’ comp attorney if your case is complex or if you are not satisfied with the way your case is being handled.
How do I choose a workers’ comp attorney?
Attorneys, like many professionals, usually choose an area of practice to focus on. This allows them to develop and sharpen their skills in one area of law, rather than trying to be a Jack-of-all-trades. Be sure to select a law firm with a solid reputation in your area, and one that seems willing to collaborate with you on your claim.
Every workers’ comp claim is unique, and some are far more complex than others. Having a trusted legal advisor by your side allows you to rest assured your paperwork will be completed properly, negotiations will be handled appropriately, and any hearing or appeals are completed by professionals who know that law and understand how to get you the best possible outcome.
If you or a loved one suffers a workplace injury, knowing how to respond can make a world of difference in the eventual outcome. While this experience can certainly be stressful, there are professionals who build their entire careers around assisting injured workers.
Know that you are not alone, and there are processes in place to ensure you are able to get the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. Once you select your legal team and share the relevant information, you can turn your attention toward recovering from your injuries and improving your daily quality of life.