September 10 2020 - Each year, about are†4.6 million†workplace injuries occur in the United States. The consequences are serious, with a staggering 104 million workdays lost as a result of these injuries. For workers who suffer injuries, workplace accidents often lead to untold physical and emotional pain.
Some occupations are a lot more dangerous than others. Still, every employee risks workplace injury if their employer does not do what it takes to ensure a safe working environment.
After suffering a workplace injury, itís natural to feel distressed and confused. You have your injuries to worry about, as well as other details associated with the accident. What steps do you take to protect your best interests when someone else is to blame for the accident?
Read on to learn more.
Focus on Your Health
Your health is, by far, the most important thing. Therefore, the first thing you need to do once you've been hurt at work is to seek first aid. Every business is obligated by law to have a designated first aider and a fully equipped first aid kit.
Immediately following the accident, look for the first aider and get help. If you canít move, ask a colleague to summon the first aider to you and stay still until they arrive.
Never ignore an injury no matter how minor it seems to you at first. In some cases, minor injuries become lifelong conditions if the patient doesnít receive proper medical treatment. After receiving first aid, visit a qualified medical doctor to get a thorough assessment of your injury.
Not that your decision-making may be impaired if you suffered an injury to your head. That's why it's best to visit a doctor right away and have a colleague accompany you.
At this point, donít concern yourself with any potential workers' compensation claim you may make due to your injury. Prioritize your health.
Report Your Accident to Colleagues
Make your colleagues aware of the accident if you were alone when it happened. This is essential if you intend to claim for compensation or an investigation ensues. It helps ensure that the company cannot dispute the incident.
In some cases, employers put pressure on other employees to deny the occurrence of a workplace injury. Itís unfortunate, but it happens, so you need to protect your†legal rights†to compensation by arming yourself with concrete proof.
Even if you don't intend to make a compensation claim, you still have a moral obligation to inform your colleagues, so they don't hurt themselves in the future the same way you did.
Alert Your Supervisor of the Accident
Your colleagues arenít the only ones you should inform about the incident. You need to alert your supervisor too. Be sure to follow your companyís protocols when it comes to accident reporting.
Employers have a legal obligation to report workplace injuries to their workersí comp carrier†within 24 hours. If you donít inform them of your accident, youíll most likely be in breach of staff procedures.
Letting your manager know what happened can also help answer the question of who is at fault for your injuries.
Record the Incident in Your Companyís Accident Book
All companies need to have an accident book. Donít let your accident go unreported, even if your employer likes to brag about how long it has been since an accident occurred at work.
What if your company does not have an accident book or your employer is unwilling to record your accident? The best solution is to write an email to your employer reporting the accident, so there's evidence you did your part.
Your employer's refusal to record your accident in the company's accident book is also sufficient grounds for you to resign. You can thereafter file a claim for†constructive dismissal.
That said, keep in mind that resigning from your job is a huge step. You may want to see an attorney who specializes in employment law before taking this action.
Take Video and Photo Evidence
Having video and photo evidence is important when you plan on making a claim for compensation. Such evidence can also help you defend yourself from any bogus accusations that your employer might bring up against you.
Unless your employer wonít penalize you for taking pictures or recording videos, go ahead and do so. Visual evidence of the accident location and your injuries can be compelling when you finally appear in court if it gets to that.
Ask a Trustworthy Colleague to Be on the Lookout
Following your accident, you may need to take some time off work, depending on the severity of your injuries. Most employers make immediate changes to the workplace environment after an accident to avoid similar incidents. Sometimes, however, these changes are meant to cover up what happened.
Thatís why you need to have a reliable colleague take notes of the new changes and update you. In case the employer does investigations in your absence, having a dependable coworker who can stick up for you to make sure you arenít wrongly blamed for the accident can make a huge difference.
Keep a Diary of Your Symptoms
Your physicians may not keep a full record of your symptoms. Many times, they only focus on what they regard as the most severe injuries.
Thatís why you need to keep an updated record of all symptoms you experience following after your workplace injury. As we pointed out earlier, even minor symptoms can develop into long-term debilitating conditions. It could be that these are the most significant injuries you claim settlement for.
If your nurses or doctor didnít record some minor injuries when you went for medical assessment and treatment, it can prove difficult to attribute such injuries to the accident later. Besides, many personal injury claims take years to resolve. Your diary will be helpful when explaining how the workplace accident impacted you to a medical expert.
If youíre not big on writing, you can record video footage discussing all your symptoms.
Visit Your Physician
Even if youíve already visited a hospital for medication and seem to be making a remarkable recovery, itís still a good idea to keep seeing your doctor.
Well, if you only visit a hospital once or twice, medical experts during your claim process will assume your injuries were minor. Theyíll assume youíd have sought further medical attention had you suspected your injuries may cause serious, long-term problems. If this turns out to be incorrect, it could seriously affect your claim.
Submit a Grievance
While you may not be able to know what the outcome of the investigation will be, itís your right to submit a grievance to your employer about your injury. Your employer should not hold a well-written grievance against you. In case they do, you can always file a whistleblowing employment claim against them.
Furthermore, if your employer doesnít investigate your grievance, you can file a constructive dismissal claim. Again, remember to seek legal counsel before resigning from work.
Record Your Medical Expenses and Income Losses
When you file for compensation for a workplace injury, youíre looking to get your life to where it would have been had the accident not happened. For instance, if you lost wages due to the accident, then the compensation should help you recover all lost wages. If you lost the chance to earn a promotion or bonus, then the settlement should help you recover all future losses as well.
Other recoverable losses include:
- Medication and treatment costs
- The loss of relaxation and enjoyment for a holiday you had planned
- Increasing heating bills as a result of the equipment you have to use as a result of the accident
- Expenses resulting for trips to hospitals for treatment
Having a seasoned workersí compensation lawyer can help you get an accurate compensation for your injury. Remember, personal injury claims can take a long time. Thatís why you need to take the time to record all your expenses during that time.
Find a Dedicated Workerís Compensation Attorney
Workplace injury cases are often very complicated. Thereís a multitude of factors that may have contributed to the accident and resulting injuries. Thatís why you need an experienced workersí compensation attorney by your side to boost your chances of recovering maximum compensation.
So, what can you expect your attorney to do for you? Well, they will help you file the required forms before the set deadlines and gather all the necessary evidence to support your claim. Moreover, theyíll help negotiate with the insurance company so you get a fair settlement.
In case you and the insurance company donít reach an agreement, your attorney will prepare for and represent you in court. In short, having a reputable attorney by your side helps tilt the scales in your favor from the very beginning.
Do the Right Thing After a Workplace Injury
A workplace injury can look like a death sentence, but that does not have to be the case. By knowing what to do and getting reliable legal aid, you can get your life back on track soon enough.
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