What to Do if You’re Injured on the Job
We all need to have a way to earn a living, but that doesn’t mean you should have to put yourself in harm’s way just to be able to earn your paycheck. There are many different ways a person could be injured on the job and some jobs are inherently riskier than others. But no matter what your job is or how your injury occurred, if you’re doing your job and are hurt in a way that requires a trip to the doctor or hospital, there are special steps you’ll need to take.
When you’re injured on the job, notify your immediate supervisor as soon as possible. Depending on the nature of your injury, you might not be able to personally notify your supervisor right away, but many states have limitations on how long you have to notify your employer of an accident to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Ideally, give your supervisor a written notification about your injury and try to have them sign a document stating they received your notice. Your notification should explain, in great detail, how your accident: when it happened, how it happened, who witnessed the accident, and any medical treatment you’ve undergone so far. If your supervisor has to make a formal accident report about the incident, get a copy of their report. If you belong to a union, don’t forget to notify your union steward.
Of course, you’ll need to get medical attention for your injuries. In some cases, workers are required to see a doctor chosen by your employer, but in other cases, you can select the doctor you want to be treated by. Regardless if you’re seeing a doctor chosen for you by your employer or one you’ve chosen, your employer should be paying your medical bills, not you.
As you’re going through treatment for your injuries, make sure you follow all of your doctor’s instructions. If you don’t, your employer might argue that you’re not committed to healing so you can get back to work and try to use it as an excuse to get out of giving you the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
Good record keeping is very important following a workplace injury. During the process of treatment and recovery, you’ll inevitably have to talk to a lot of people like insurance companies, doctors, your employer. Try to keep a written record of who you talk to, when you talked to them, and what your conversations were about. Make copies of all your medical records related to your accident. If your doctor gives you specific instructions about things you aren’t able to do at work, make sure you get that in writing. If you need to pay any out-of-pocket expenses related to your treatment, such as copays for medications, keep records of them so you can get reimbursed for them.
You may also want to consult an attorney about your accident, particularly if you feel like your employer is being uncooperative or that you aren’t getting adequate health care from a doctor your employer has chosen. Workplace injury and workers’ compensation cases can get complicated. For example, did you know that even if you receive workers’ comp, you may still be able to file lawsuits over your accident in certain circumstances? A lawyer may also be able to help you get workers’ comp benefits if your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance.