If you’ve been injured at work, it’s important you take the appropriate steps with your company and a lawyer to make sure you are properly compensated. Here is your guide on what you need to do if you’re injured at work.
All states in the U.S. require employers to provide a reasonably safe and healthy work environment. When an employer fails at their legal duty to provide this, employees can get harmed or injured as a result.
Sometimes, even when all safety concerns have been addressed, an employee can become injured or find themselves in harm’s way.
Workplace injuries are frequent and occur at a rate of over 23,000 a day and cost upwards of $192 billion annually. Much of this cost can find itself on the shoulders of workers, their families, and our economy.
If you’ve been injured at work, it’s essential that you take the appropriate steps with your company and a lawyer to make sure that you’re properly compensated. Otherwise, you could find yourself both injured and financially burdened.
Below, we’ll outline what you’ll need to know and do to get what is rightfully yours.
What Are Your Rights as an Employee?
Worker’s compensation laws vary widely depending on which state you reside. Generally speaking, though, there are a number of legal rights that are common across most of the country.
These include the right to file a claim for your injury or illness in a worker’s comp court. You also have the right to seek medical attention, as well as the right to return to work if a doctor approves you. If you are unable to return to work due to your injury, even temporarily, you have the right to some sort of disability compensation.
The laws in each state guarantee that you can pursue worker’s compensation without harassment or determent from your employer. If your employer makes it difficult for you to pursue these rights, the penalty they can face can be quite severe.
What to Do Immediately Following a Workplace Injury
The most important things you can do following a workplace injury is to report the injury to your employer. Many states require that you report a work injury in a certain period of time to be eligible for worker’s compensation. Depending on the particular circumstances of your own injury, this may not be possible–but you should report as soon as you can.
If possible, you should submit a notice of your injury to your employer in writing. Many states require this notice to be in writing for it to be legally viable. An injured employee who fails to alert their employer in writing in proper time may forfeit their right to worker’s compensation.
The next step to take is to file a claim with the worker’s compensation court in your region. Filing a claim will put the court, your employer, and your employer’s insurance company on alert with a formal notice of your workplace injury.
Your employer should be able to supply you with the forms you need to file a claim. Most states require employers to have these forms handy at all times. Doctor’s offices and government offices are also expected to have them available. If for some reason a form is not available to you, immediately contact your state Worker Compensation Office.
When filling out a worker’s compensation form, you should make sure to fill out only the employee section. You must remember and double check that you both sign and date the claim form, as this will be hugely important in a court of law. You should also remember, after filling it out, to keep a copy of the form for your personal records.
Once you have a completed form in hand, you should return it to your employer and the Worker’s Compensation Office in swift fashion. If you need to mail your form to your employer, it is recommended that you do so using certified mail with the receipt requested.
Once a claim is filed, you will automatically be granted the protections discussed previously.
There are a few instances where your employer may not have worker’s compensation insurance. Some agricultural employees or independent contractors may be in this situation.
If your employer does not have worker’s compensation insurance, your state likely has a fund out of which they will pay your worker’s comp benefits. You may also be able to sue your employer for negligence if they do not have insurance for workers set up at their company.
What If My Employer Isn’t the One at Fault?
In the case of certain workplace injuries, harm may have been caused due to a third party instead of your direct employer. Sometimes the manufacturer of different products used in the workplace could be at fault. Sometimes it could be other people, such as the driver of a different company’s delivery truck.
If you were injured at work due to the negligence of a third party, you may still have the right to bring a claim against them. This is aptly referred to as a ‘third party claim.’ It is important to note that these claims are typically not argued in worker’s compensation court, but rather in the form of civil lawsuits that are filed in state or federal courts.
These civil lawsuits can frequently result in personal injury damages that are not normally available in worker’s compensation claims.
If you are unsure of what kind of case you may have as it pertains to your situation, you should seek the help of a reliable law firm such as Reeves & Lyle, LLC. Workplace injury cases can be tricky, and having a team of professionals behind you to lead the way can help make sure you get the compensation that you deserve.
If You’ve Been Injured at Work, You Have Rights
Workplace injuries are incredibly commonplace. If you understand the rights you have as an employee and know how to receive them, you should be well on the way to getting the compensation you deserve. No one who has been injured at work should have to handle the financial burden of injury without help.
All employees have rights–and now you know how to use them to get what you need.
Make sure to check out our blog for more essential workplace information.