Someone gets hurt at work in the US every 7 seconds. That’s 540 work injuries per hour, 12,900 per day, 90,400 per week, and 7 million per year!
Accidents happen. But when they happen at work (and you get injured as a result), you’re probably entitled to worker’s compensation. So it’s important to know how to apply for and gain worker’s compensation benefits.
In this article, we’ll go over exactly what you need to do if you’re ever involved in an accident at work.
Let’s get started!
1. File an accident report
Anytime you’re in an accident at work, you should file an accident report with your employer immediately—even if you don’t believe you’ve been injured. This has two reasons:
- Sometimes you don’t experience symptoms of an injury until weeks after the fact. In such cases, you want to have reported your injury.
- Reporting an accident will motivate the company to implement safety measures that could prevent future accidents.
So, no matter the nature of the accident, it’s best to report it to be safe.
2. Report the injury
If you discover you’ve been injured—at the scene of the accident or later on—report it immediately. Many states have short deadlines for reporting injuries if you want to get worker’s comp benefits. So, if you wait too long, you could be out of luck.
Make sure to include a note from a doctor attesting to your injury and that it happened while you were at work.
Your employer will be the one to file the worker’s comp claim, but they won’t start the process until you let them know you’ve been injured. At that point, a worker’s comp claim administrator will be assigned to you, and you’ll fill out the claim form as directed.
You’ll be entitled to a copy of the claim for your records, and if you are unable to work, you may be able to start earning temporary disability benefits, paid out every 2 weeks.
3. Get medical treatment
Of course, you should get medical treatment right away. Ask your coworkers and others around you for help and see if the office has a first aid kit available.
If needed, go to the emergency room. Your health should be your number one priority before you worry about anything else.
To be safe, contact your personal health insurance provider. They’ll tell you what they’ll cover and which doctors you can see.
4. Consult a worker’s compensation attorney
Next, you need to consult a worker’s compensation attorney to ensure you get the best resolution. Remember, your employer and its insurance companies have lawyers working for them, so you need someone to stand up for you as well.
Most worker’s compensation attorneys offer an initial consultation for free. So you really have nothing to lose.
A lawyer can tell you how strong your case is, how to navigate the insurance and lawsuit claims, and what your rights are.
For example, most states require companies to get worker’s compensation insurance, which means employees can’t sue them over work injuries.
But it also means you don’t have to prove employer negligence caused the injury when filing a claim. Any work injury is covered, with a few exceptions like injuries in which you were intoxicated, fighting, or commuting to or from work.
5. Document the injury
You want as much proof of your injury as possible. So, try to take a photo of it with your phone at the scene of the accident.
And it’s always a good idea to get the names and contact information of any witnesses like managers or coworkers.
Then photograph the injury at regular intervals afterward—perhaps every week or every day, enough to see changes over time.
You can also make a reliable written record by recording your symptoms on paper. Describe who was there, how it happened, and who you told. Keep a journal.
6. Keep track of medical records and expenses
Lastly, keep track of all your medical records and expenses so that you can show the damage and losses you’ve incurred as a result of the work injury.
This can include missed days at work, hospital bills, travel expenses, and more. Anything that has set you back.
Nobody wants to get hurt at work. But unfortunately, it’s not something you have much control over. So, when it happens to you, follow the tips above to alleviate the situation as much as possible. You won’t regret it!