Workplace injuries are a sad inevitability of working in many environments. Despite that certainty, recovering from a workplace injury is a far less uniform experience. Some people may receive a minor burn and are able to continue working with relatively little lapse in their earnings, while others have such a serious injury that it could take years to return to the workforce. This article seeks to inform about the steps in filing for workers’ compensation and making it back into the workforce.
Seek Out Immediate Treatment
Prioritize whatever treatment the injury calls for before filing. Company policies may require seeing specific professionals, necessitating consultation with your supervisor. Know that most states allow you a second opinion if the company referral seems unreliable, and actively seeking medical attention can be a requirement for your claim. According to Steps to Justice, “you need to: tell the doctor exactly what happened, don’t lie or cover anything up you are at fault, and explain all your symptoms, make sure your doctor writes down what you say, and ask the doctor to send an official medical report of the injury.” Medical reports are official evidence of injury and will be used as your claim’s basis.
Tell Your Employer
Make sure you tell your employer about your injury as soon as possible. Some jurisdictions have a deadline for informing an employer. It is a good habit to report all workplace accidents, just in case it is later revealed that a non-injurious accident led to injury. Legally, employees are owed safe working conditions, and employee safety must always come before a company’s bottom line. Ignoring the safety of employees can cost a company heavily.
As seeking workers’ compensation is a legal matter, you should notify your supervisor in writing. Know that the sooner this is done, the clearer you will be on details, making it more likely that you’ll get the compensation you want. While most employers will have an official claim form, you can request one from your state’s workers’ comp board. Generally, this form asks for the following:
- What was your injury, and where did it occur on the body?
- When and where did the injury occur?
- Who was involved?
- What circumstances lead to the accident?
- A list of all medical treatments.
What Your Employer Owes You
The threat of punishment and fines legally compels employers to provide workers’ comp. Furthermore, they cannot retaliate against workers seeking compensation. Bachus & Schanker explain, “there are laws designed to help employees injured on the job or as a result of the job. The goal of Workers’ Compensation is to make it possible, with help, for an injured employee to focus on getting necessary medical treatment and coping financially while missing days, weeks or months of work due to the injuries sustained.” Usually, the employer files your claim through insurance and the state board. After insurance assesses the claim, you are informed if your claim is accepted or denied and any due benefits. If rejected, you can usually appeal the decision.
Life After Your Claim
Filling out paperwork is the bulk of the claim process. That said, you should still follow its progress and keep detailed written records as needed. Consider logging how your injury affects your work and day-to-day living. Keep the receipts from out-of-pocket expenses as proof of your difficulty managing the injury. Also keep diligent records for what kind of work you can and can’t do when returning to the job. If you’ve undergone surgery or other major healing procedures, then you might be assigned to light-duty work until you’re back up to speed. If you work with a physical therapist, then they will be able to assess your range of motion and monitor your progress after the accident. These sessions will also help you recover from your injury and make adjustments in your working life.
Employers should do everything they can to make their workers feel safe, but also make sure they are safe. This is doubly true for people who work in manual labor or “blue collar” jobs. If you find yourself in need of help because of an injury, keep these tips in mind.