Every day, a surprising number of people become injured while on the job. Sometimes these injuries are minor, while other times, severe workplace injuries caused an employee to become disabled and unable to work indefinitely. If you or your loved one has been injured while on the job, you may be able to receive some type of monthly benefits through the workers’ compensation program. If you qualify, you will be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages due to taking time off work to recover, and supplemental income to provide for your family.
If your loved one has passed away due to the workplace accident, you may be able to claim benefits or file a wrongful death lawsuit against your loved one’s employer. Many people are understandably disoriented after suffering a severe workplace accident. It can be difficult to know what to do, but we have laid out some important steps to take if you become injured in a workplace accident.
It is important to notify your employer as soon as possible of your workplace injury. Under workers’ compensation laws, employees must notify their employer of any workplace injuries within 30 days of the injury happening. If you fail to give notice before the 30-day deadline, your employer has the right to deny your claim to worker’s compensation benefits. Make sure that you give notice to a supervisor or the owner of your company. If you have an employee handbook, you may want to read through it because it could explain how you should give notice of workplace injuries.
Another important thing for you to do after a workplace accident is to seek medical treatment. You will need to make an appointment with an approved doctor as soon as possible after the accident occurs. When the workplace accident happens on the weekend or at night, go to your nearest hospital or urgent care center. You can also go to your regular doctor if they have extended hours. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company has a duty to pay for your emergency medical treatment after a workplace injury, regardless of whether or not there is a list of acceptable doctors posted.
It is extremely important that you follow your doctor’s orders. If they require you to take medication, fill the prescription, and take the medication as directed. If they refer you to another specialist, such as a physical therapist, you must follow up with the specialist and attend all appointments. Workers’ compensation insurance companies try to deny claims whenever possible, and failing to follow your doctor’s instructions could become grounds for a denial of your claim.
Your employer has workers’ compensation insurance and will have a list of approved doctors that you can see. This list is known as the panel of physicians. These are doctors that you are allowed to see and still be reimbursed by the insurance company’s policy. If you do not know where this list is, ask your human resources department or your supervisor to provide you with one as soon as possible. If they fail to give you the panel physicians list within a reasonable time frame, you have a right to choose a doctor to see. However, if you have been provided with the list of qualifying doctors and choose a different doctor who is not on the list, your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company can use this to deny your workers’ compensation claim outright.
Your State Board of Workers’ Compensation is the government agency responsible for processing all workers’ compensation claims. You will need to take the step of formally filing your claim to protect your rights. Specifically, you’ll need to fill out and submit Form WC-14 with your State Board of Workers’ Compensation. You can download this PDF online, or call the State Board and request a copy. There are a few rare exceptions to the requirement of filling out form WC-14, but it is best to speak with an attorney before you choose not to fill out the claim. A skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can help you make sure you fill out the claim accurately and thoroughly. If you do not, your claim could be denied or delayed.
Sometimes companies work well with their employees to resolve workers’ compensation issues. Unfortunately, some companies will stall and delay the process, hoping that the employee gives up and does not file a claim. When this type of stalling happens, you need an assertive attorney on your side. You can ask your employer for a copy of the workplace incident reports they filed with their insurance company. It is wise to save a copy of WC-14 for your records. Sometimes, employers will refuse to make a written incident report. In that case, you should write your own report out and keep a copy of it for your files. If your employer is stalling on providing you with information about your case, or they refuse to submit your claim promptly, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Suffering a severe workplace injury can have a devastating impact on your life and your family’s life. If you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced lawyer before you begin the process. Your lawyer can help you make sure that you protect your right to compensation and that your employer respects your rights and provides the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Contact Smith Hulsey Law as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation.
Smith Hulsey Law