An estimated 2.7 million non-fatal work injuries and illnesses occurred in the US in 2020. While that’s 5.7% lower than the previous year’s 2.8 million cases, it’s still 2.7 million too many.
So, if you’ve sustained an injury from a workplace accident yourself, it’s vital to know what to do right after. That way, you can make sure you’ll receive the compensation that you may be eligible for.
To that end, we came up with this guide discussing what to do after you get injured at work due to a job-related accident. Read on to discover the steps to take and make sure you follow them all to a T.
1. Seek Medical Assistance Right Away
Go to the emergency room, a hospital, or a clinic right after you get injured in a workplace accident. Do that even if you don’t have visible injuries or feel any pain or symptom.
For starters, some accidents at work can cause injuries with delayed symptoms. For example, a fall can cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI) with few to no initial indications. That’s especially true for mild TBIs, which account for three-quarters of all TBI cases.
Another example is a whiplash injury, which can take days, even weeks, to manifest. Unfortunately, delaying whiplash treatment can result in the development of chronic symptoms. In some patients, the long-term effects of such injuries can even last for five years or more.
So, always keep in mind that injuries with or without symptoms can worsen if left untreated. That’s why it’s imperative to seek medical attention if you get into an accident at work. It’s for your own sake anyway, as you want to get your treatment and recovery started right away.
Besides, you’d need medical documentation of your injuries when you file a legal claim. The treating doctor will write and organize the paperwork on your behalf.
2. File a Work Place Accident Report
Let your employer know about your accident and injury as soon as your condition permits. However, it’s best to do it right away, as there’s always a deadline for accident report filings.
The due dates vary from state to state, though, so be sure to check yours. For example, in Wyoming and South Dakota, workers only have 72 hours to file an accident case report. In other states, the deadlines range from 7 to 30 days.
3. Complete a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Injured employees also need to fill out a separate workers’ compensation claim form. Employers, in turn, usually provide these forms after receiving the filed incident report. In some cases, the documents may come from the state’s workers’ compensation board.
4. Ensure Your Employer Files the Workers’ Comp Claim
In many cases, employers are the ones who must file the completed workers’ comp claim forms. They need to send these, along with supporting documents, to their insurance carrier. One of those supporting documents is your medical report.
It’s imperative to follow up the claim with your employer at least once. The last thing you want is for your employer to under-report, under-record, or even fail to file your case at all. Unfortunately, it’s common, with some estimates putting its prevalence rate at 20% to 70%.
Be sure your employer files your claim within your state’s statute of limitations. That’s the deadline for filing workers’ comp claims. It also differs from the deadline of accident reports filed with employers.
The statute of limitations is longer, ranging from six months to 4 years, depending on the state.
5. Follow Your Treatment Plan
Getting injured in a workplace accident usually results in days away from work (DAFW). For example, in 2019, the typical DAFW for fall, slip, trip, and overexertion injuries were 13 days. Such high-impact incidents, after all, require lengthy treatment and recovery periods.
Regardless of how long you need to be off work, be sure to follow your treatment plan. Doing so will help prevent further delays in your ability to go back to work.
6. Wait for Your Claim’s Approval
Employers and workers’ comp carriers usually have two to four weeks to process claims. During this time, they must decide whether to approve or deny a claim. It may take longer, though, such as if those parties need to investigate the case further.
In any case, you should get a written notice of your claim’s status within a few weeks. If you don’t, follow up with your employer or contact the claims administrator.
If you still don’t receive updates, it’s time to call a workers’ compensation attorney. Your lawyer will be the one to communicate with the insurer on your behalf.
Your attorney will also ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Thus, if the insurer offers an unjust settlement amount, your lawyer will advise you not to take it. Instead, your legal advisor will negotiate an amount appropriate to your case.
7. File an Appeal for a Denied Claim
One thing to prepare yourself for is the possibility of having your claim getting denied. Although most claims do get approved, insurance carriers rejected 7% of them in 2017.
That’s all the more reason to hire a workers’ comp attorney who can fight for your rights. Your lawyer will file an appeal so that the initial results can get overturned. You may even get an amount higher than what the insurer would’ve paid if they approved your claim right off the bat.
File a Workers’ Comp Claim Without Delay
Keep in mind that a workplace accident can lead not only to physical but psychological trauma too. That’s why it’s crucial to get professional medical help right after you get injured at work.
From there, follow your treatment plan, and be sure to file a worker’s comp claim ASAP. That way, you can get the fair compensation you deserve.
Are you interested in other health, safety, and work-related articles like this? If so, then be sure to browse our informative and up-to-date news and blog posts!
Read also: 4 Excellent Business Marketing Ideas