Work-related injuries can occur in any kind of industry. Though construction injuries account for the vast majority of work accidents, office workers suffer injuries as well despite being in a safe, enclosed environment with injuries such as carpal tunnel, back strains and damage to a spinal disc from lifting. Other causes of injuries in office settings are slip and falls, assaults and from car accidents that are work-related.
Workers’ compensation insurance pays certain benefits for injured workers including medical expenses, temporary disability payments for lost wages and a settlement if you suffered a permanent disability or loss of a vital body function. For workers’ compensation to apply, your injury must have occurred while you were in the course and scope of your employment and have been substantially caused by whatever work task you were engaged in.
If you were injured on the job, consider consulting with a construction injury lawyer to assist you regardless if you are a construction worker, since attorneys in this legal area usually have vast experience dealing with some aspect of serious work injuries on a regular basis.
In any case, here are 10 steps regarding what to do after a work accident if you were injured on the job to ensure you meet reporting requirements and can avoid some of the common excuses employers and insurers use to deny benefits:
- Report your injury to your supervisor as soon as practicable and do so in writing. While an injury like a broken arm or from a slip and fall at work is obvious, some injuries are not so apparent. If you have a repetitive use injury like carpal tunnel or severe back or neck strain, do not delay in reporting your symptoms. For workers who deal with toxic chemicals or in loud environments, a gradual loss of hearing, sight or lung damage is not uncommon. In Massachusetts, if you are unable to work for 5 or more partial or full days because of a work-related injury or illness, report the injury so that your employer can file a Form 101-Employer’s First Report of Injury/Fatality with the Department of Industrial Accidents.
- Follow up with your supervisor if you have not received copies of an injury report. If you are in a union, report the injury to your steward along with copies of your written report.
- Retain copies of every document given to you after your report the injury.
- Make notes of every conversation or discussion with your supervisor regarding the injury, indicating date, time and place of conversation and the substance of what was said. If witnesses were present, identify them as well.
- Go to the physician to whom your employer sends you. If you seek treatment from your own doctor, your care might not be covered by workers’ compensation and your own provider might claim it should be covered by your employer. Your employer can also assert the injury was not work-related, especially if you had treatment before you reported the injury or illness.
- Be truthful and thorough with the employer’s physician. Though you may feel this doctor is not on your side, you should fully disclose everything about your injury and the sequence or timeline that led to the injury. If you fail to disclose a preexisting condition that may not have been work-related, the insurer can use this to deny you benefits.
- If you are given physical limitations or work restrictions, be sure the doctor writes these down clearly so that there is no misunderstanding about what you cannot do.
- Follow the treatment plan that the doctor prescribes for you and take the medication. If you miss appointments or do not comply, your benefits can end.
- Keep a written diary or log of your daily symptoms, medical appointments, medications and when taken and your progress.
- Consult a construction injury lawyer like Paul Tetzel if your benefits are denied, treatment ends too soon or you feel you are not getting effective treatment.
Most employers are sympathetic to their employees and work with them to get the treatment they need so they can quickly return to work. Unfortunately, there are employers or insurers who feel otherwise and will challenge your claim that you were injured at work or that your injury was in the scope of your employment. Other issues arise when the doctor ends your treatment, releases you back to work too soon or minimizes your restrictions. Knowing what to do after a work accident can prepare you and your attorney if your claim is denied or benefits terminated.
Paul Tetzel has been representing workers regarding work-related injuries involving all types of industries. If you were injured at work, consult with him regarding your claim and the types of benefits to which you are entitled. His representation has resulted in numerous clients getting their workers’ compensation benefits started or restored and in negotiating reasonable and satisfactory settlements.