What to Do If You’re Injured on the Job
What to Do After a Workplace Injury
When an employee or their loved one suffers an injury on the job, it can be a stressful and confusing time. It is important to know the proper steps to take when a work injury occurs. Based on more than 35 years serving workplace injury victims in Goldsboro, our workers’ comp attorneys recommend that you follow these steps if you’ve been injured on the job.
First and foremost, as common sense would dictate, if the injury is severe or life-threatening, you should call 911 immediately and emergency steps should be taken to obtain immediate medical help for the injured worker. Remember, not only will seeking medical care protect your health and safety, but medical records will play an important role in any potential workers’ compensation claim associate with your injury.
The next most important step if you’ve been injured on the job is to report your workplace injury to your employer. Immediately after your workplace accident, report your injury to your employer in a written notice using Form 18 (see below).
Report Your Injury with “Form 18”
Official written notice is supposed to be given to the employer within 30 days on a North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18. Form 18 needs to be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission at the same time it is provided to the Employer and/or the Insurance Carrier.
Form 18 may be downloaded and printed from the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s website, or one can be mailed upon request. Many employers have their own accident or injury report forms which should also be completed if required by the employer.
If a Form 18 is not immediately available, we recommend that the injured employees provide written notice via email, fax, or handwritten note, signed and dated. This notice should be witnessed by coworkers, a supervisor, or other individuals if possible. It is also important to get the names, contact information (including phone number and email addresses), and addresses of any witnesses to the accident. Testimony of witnesses could be crucial to winning your workplace injury case.
Many workers’ compensation claims are denied by employers for an alleged lack of written notice so it is very important to be able to prove that notice of the accident and injury was given to the employer.
Many injured employees are reluctant to report injuries, major or minor, for fear of retaliation by their employer. However, if the injury is not promptly reported in a manner that can be proven at an Industrial Commission hearing, it can be fatal to an injured worker’s case, even if the injury turns out to be significant, serious, and long-term.
North Carolina Law On Reporting Job Injuries
Why must you report the injury to your employer? Here’s what the law states:
N.C.G.S. § 97-22 provides that “Every injured employee or his representative shall immediately on the occurrence of an accident, or as soon thereafter as practicable, give or cause to be given to the employer a written notice of the accident, and the employee shall not be entitled to physician’s fees nor to any compensation which may have accrued under the terms of this Article prior to the giving of such notice, unless it can be shown that the employer, his agent or representative, had knowledge of the accident, or that the party required to give such notice had been prevented from doing so by reason of physical or mental incapacity, or the fraud or deceit of some third person;”
The law further provides that “no compensation shall be payable unless such written notice is given within 30 days after the occurrence of the accident or death, unless reasonable excuse is made to the satisfaction of the Industrial Commission for not giving such notice and the Commission is satisfied that the employer has not been prejudiced thereby.” N.C.G.S. § 97-22.
Continue Medical Treatment
The next most important thing for injured workers to do is to continue to get medical treatment, diligently attend all appointments and following up with all treatment recommendations. In non-emergency situations, the employer and/or their workers’ comp insurance carrier has the right to direct medical care. If you have concerns about employer or insurance company-directed medical care, talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
Here’s what North Carolina law says about emergency and non-emergency treatment:
N.C.G.S. § 97-25 provides “If in an emergency on an account of the employer’s failure to provide medical compensation, a physician other than provided by the employer is called to treat the injured employee, the reasonable cost of such service shall be paid by the employer if so ordered by the Industrial Commission.”
If it is not an emergency, the employer or insurance carrier is entitled to direct medical care. N.C.G.S. § 97-25 provides that “medical compensation shall be provided by the employer.”
The statute further provides that “the refusal of the employee to accept any medical compensation when ordered by the Industrial Commission shall bar the employee from further compensation until such refusal ceases, and no compensation shall at any time be paid for the period of suspension unless in the opinion of the Industrial Commission the circumstances justified the refusal.”
In summary, employees are obligated to go to the medical providers chosen by the employer and/or insurance company and to follow all treatment recommendations or risk having their benefits suspended or denied. An employee can seek second opinions or Industrial Commission intervention to obtain further medical treatment.
Hire an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The next step that an employee should take, particularly in circumstances of a serious injury, is to contact an experienced and qualified Goldsboro workers’ compensation attorney to obtain advice and representation, if necessary. At Riddle & Brantley, our workers’ comp attorneys do not charge attorney fees unless we win your case and recover compensation for you. We recommend employees do NOT give a recorded statement to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier before talking with an experienced attorney and obtaining advice regarding their claim.
Remember that all attorneys have a legal and ethical obligation to keep client communications confidential, so your employer will have no knowledge of the consultation, unless or until official notice of representation is filed with the Industrial Commission, the employer, and the insurance carrier.
Once an attorney has undertaken representation, all communications with the employer or insurance carriers should go through the attorney, and employees should follow the advice of their attorney with respect to the claim.
In summary, there are three very important things to do when injured on the job:
- Promptly notify the employer of the injury in writing and file this written notice (Form 18) with the North Carolina Industrial Commission;
- Seek prompt medical treatment, as directed by the employer or the insurance carrier except in the event of an emergency; and
- Obtain the advice of a Goldsboro workers’ compensation attorney. We have two Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation ready and able to help answer your questions.
In the event of an on-the-job injury, or if you have questions regarding your rights in workers’ compensation, please speak with a Goldsboro workers’ comp attorney in a free consultation today by calling 1-800-525-7111.