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Important Considering Following a Workplace Accident
Every year, there are several million non-fatal workplace accidents in the U.S. For this reason, it is required by state law that nearly every employer must provide workers’ compensation insurance for its employees. If you are hurt at work, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. The following are some tips and protocols to consider following an accident sustained in the workplace.
- File an Accident Report – Since many states only have a brief time window for reporting an accident to receive worker’s compensation, it is important that you report your accident or injury as soon as possible. Even if an injury does not present itself immediately following an accident, it is good practice to document an accident sustained on the job. Additionally, reporting an accident, even if you haven’t sustained any injuries, may encourage your employer to implement new processes and safety procedures that will prevent further accidents from occurring in the future.
- Seek Medical Attention – After a workplace accident, ensure you schedule an appointment with a medical professional as soon as possible. In the instance of a serious injury, immediately visit the emergency room. If your injuries are not serious, you should immediately schedule an appointment with your regular doctor. Some employers have a designated doctor that you’re required to visit following an accident, but even with this necessary step, you should still schedule an additional appointment with your regular doctor, especially if you do not agree with the diagnosis from the employer’s specified doctor. Workers’ compensation may not always cover the second opinion, but it may turn out to be worth it even at your own expense.
- Workers’ Compensation Laws Provide Coverage But Prohibit Lawsuits – In every state except Texas, the law requires that nearly all employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, but in return, the laws add provisions that employees cannot sue employers for work-related injuries. Filing a workers’ compensation claim does not require the injured party to prove the injuries were caused by an employer’s negligence. In fact, a worker can be compensated for injuries even if they are at fault themselves. As with any law, there are exceptions, such as worker’s compensation not covering an injury if the employee was found to be using drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. This specific exception causes many employers to require that employees are drug tested whenever there is an injury reported.
- Report Injuries, Even If It’s After the Fact – After you report an accident or injury to your employer, it is the employer’s responsibility to file a workers’ compensation claim for you, but this claim cannot be completed until injuries are identified. If you submitted an accident report but didn’t realize you were injured at the time, it’s crucial that you inform your employer about any newly discovered injuries as soon they arise. It is also important to ensure that your employer files a workers’ compensation claim, and that you obtain a copy of it for your records.
- See a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer – While workplace accidents and workers’ compensation benefits seem clear cut, there are situations in which they can become complicated. In the event of a workplace injury, it is always a good idea to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to review your case. Your claim may be one of the rare cases in which you are entitled to additional compensation for the injuries you sustained.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, you should always consult with an attorney who has knowledge of worker’s compensation cases to learn about your legal options. A work injury can drastically alter your life, so involving a legal professional who represents your best interests is important. It may be prudent to evaluate multiple lawyers to find the best representation for you. If you need a guide to help you in your initial exploration of legal options, click below to learn the important questions to ask when evaluating an attorney and the necessary information to bring to your initial legal consultation.