An employee is injured on the job every 7 seconds.
While preventable, workplace accidents are unfortunately common. If you have experienced a workplace injury, you might not know what to do next.
Even if you haven’t been involved in an accident while on the clock, being prepared and knowing what to do in advance can go a long way if the worst does happen.
Keep reading for more information about workers’ compensation and what to do if you are injured at work.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance offered to employees that covers them for most accidents occurring on the job.
Every state, expect Texas, requires that employers provide this insurance to their workers. The purpose of this insurance is to protect both employees and employers.
If workers’ compensation coverage is in place, employees cannot sue their employers. The fact of the matter is, they don’t need to.
Workers’ compensation will cover the employees’ injuries whether the employee or the employer was at fault. Even if no one was at fault and it was simply a freak accident, there is coverage.
As is usually the case with insurance policies, there are some exclusions to coverage.
Situations that might result in a denial of coverage include the injured employee being drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs when the incident occurred. Because of this, employers sometimes require employees involved in accidents to complete drug tests.
Injuries that occur as a result of a workplace fight or employees playing around are usually not covered.
A gray area with workers’ compensation insurance is accidents that occur while an employee is on their way to work. This might include while they are driving or walking into work. Usually this is not covered.
What to Do If You Experience a Workplace Injury
Now that you know a little more about the nature of worker’s compensation insurance, let’s take a look at the steps you should take immediately following a workplace accident.
While not all cases are the same, the following are general steps that should be taken by anyone who is injured or involved in an accident while on the job.
Report the Incident
The first thing you need to do if you are injured on the job is to say something.
Even if you don’t believe you are injured, if an accident of any kind occurs at work, inform your manager immediately. Depending on the State you live in, you could be subject to strict reporting deadlines.
This means that if you don’t report the accident within a specific time frame, you might not be eligible for coverage under workers’ compensation. Many times, workers are embarrassed about what happened and are reluctant to inform their employers.
Reporting the incident right away can benefit you as well as others. For one, you may think you are fine after the accident and then begin to experience symptoms weeks or even months later. Or maybe you seek initial treatment and pay out of pocket thinking it will be a quick fix and the injury turns out to be anything but minor.
Even if you are positive you weren’t injured in the accident, reporting it to your employer might bring about change to current policy. This might prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future and injuring you or someone else.
Your employer will file an official accident report whether or not you were injured. You will need this report as evidence of the incident occurring if you do need to make an insurance claim for your injuries.
See a Doctor
As soon as an accident takes place, you should seek medical attention.
If the accident was severe and the injury warrants it, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. If the injury is less serious, you should talk to your employer before seeking medical care.
They may direct you to see a certain provider or give you permission to visit whichever doctor you prefer.
If your employer does send you to a doctor of their choosing and you are not happy with the doctor, consider getting a second opinion from a doctor of your choice.
Check your state workers’ compensation laws because you might be entitled to second opinion. Even if you don’t have coverage for a second opinion, it may benefit you in the long run to pay out of pocket.
Your personal health insurance will cover your doctor’s visit and you will gain much more in worker’s compensation benefits than you will pay to visit your own doctor.
File a Claim
Your employer must be the one to file your workers’ compensation claim with the insurance company on your behalf.
If you have not advised them that you are injured, they won’t know to file the claim. Inform your employer of your injury as soon as you discover you are injured.
Check with your employer to make sure a claim has been filed with the insurance company. Ask for a copy of the claim that was filed for your records.
Hire an Attorney
Hiring an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation claims will make the process much easier on you.
Being injured in an accident can be a stressful time and you may not be able to prove your claim on your own. Your attorney will help you navigate the process and will act as your representative to communicate with the insurance company.
We recommend you learn more about the benefits of retaining an attorney to help you with your claim.
The best thing you can do to prevent a workplace injury is to take preventative action and practice workplace safety.
Even if we try our best, accidents do happen. If you are injured while on the job, follow our advice and consult an attorney in your state.
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