What Should You Do If You’re Hurt On The Job?
Regardless of your job, there are potential hazards that can cause serious injuries. As a result, most employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance ensures that employees are fairly compensated for their workplace injuries without having to file a lawsuit against the employer.
It is important to remember that you are only eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you report your injury quickly and correctly during the workers’ compensation process. Even when things are done in a correct and timely manner, some insurance companies will deny or undervalue claims.
In order to ensure that you give yourself the best opportunity to claim all the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed, here are four things to consider if you have been hurt on the job.
Inform Your Employer of Your Injury
Depending on the severity of the injury, the first thing you should do after an injury at work is report it to your employer. You will also be required to file a notice of accident on an Industrial Commission Form (Form 18) to initiate and start your claim.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault meaning you can report any injury you sustained on the job without fear – even if you are concerned that the injury was caused by a mistake you made. Moreover, do not worry that your employer will retaliate. Punitive actions for reporting an injury, such as a pay cut or demotion, are illegal.
When reporting your injury make sure you document as many details as possible about the accident. This includes the names of any witnesses, how the injury happened, and even the location of the injury. If the injury or condition developed over time, also known as a repetitive stress injury or occupational disease, document how your job contributed to the injury or disease and report it to your employer and medical providers as soon as you notice it.
Some common repetitive stress injuries you could receive workers’ compensation for include: bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, lumbar injuries, disc injuries, and stress fractures. Occupational diseases include asbestosis or mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos.
Seek Medical Attention and Treatment
Should you sustain a work-related injury, your number one concern should be your health. It’s extremely important that you seek treatment from your doctor if you were injured in an accident or you suspect a repetitive stress injury. If your injury happened during a sudden accident at work, seek medical attention immediately. The Workers Comp carrier should pay for all emergency care but continued care may have to be authorized and approved by the Carrier. If necessary, your attorney can request an Independent Medical Exam by a physician of you select.
Should you believe the insurance company has denied or undervalued your claim or is treating you unfairly, you will likely need to hire an attorney to represent you.
File Your Worker’s Compensation Claim Quickly
Depending on your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy and the state that you live in, you may have to file a workers’ compensation claim in as little as 30 days after your injury. This is why it is important to report your injury to your employer quickly, so they can notify their insurance company and begin the workers’ compensation process.
Consult with A Workers’ Compensation Attorney If Your Claim Has Been Denied
Even though our laws are set up to promptly compensate injured workers, your claim may be denied or otherwise not moving smoothly through the process. Your medical care may be delayed or your lost wage benefits may be delayed or under calculated. Our laws have several unique elements, many of which are counter-intuitive. For example, many claims are denied on the basis that the employee was hurt when performing his or her job “in the usual and customary manner”. On its face, this idea seems absurd. Why should an injury not be covered under worker’s comp? because the employee was doing his or her job as usual? But many injuries ARE denied worker’s compensation coverage on this basis, because (the insurance company argues) there was no “accident” and worker’s comp. is only intended to apply to “accidents”.
If you think your claim has been undervalued or wrongfully denied, for these reasons, and many more, you should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have been hurt on the job. We have two NC State Bar Certified Specialists in Workers Compensation to help answer your questions and represent your interests. We can warn you of the pitfalls, and guide you through the process.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Riddle & Brantley have years of experience handling work-related injuries and have helped thousands of clients seek the compensation they deserve. Whether you need assistance starting a new workers’ compensation claim or would like to appeal a decision on a claim already filed, our attorneys would like to hear from you. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.