March 18 2020 - Statistics show that there are at least 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries that are reported each year by the private sector employers. In as much as nobody likes to have a workplace injury, they can happen, and should they do; you need to know exactly what to do.
If you suffer an accident at work, no matter how big or small it is, you might probably go through a very confusing and painful time, both physically and emotionally. This is because, besides the injuries you sustain, you may have a lot of worries too. Knowing what to do is one of the first steps towards your healing and recovery.
Read on to find out what you need to do to get the right treatment and also protect your legal rights.
1. Concentrate on the Injury
One of the first things that you need to do if you are conscious is to call for help immediately. The law requires every workplace to have a first aid kit and a trained first aider who should be the first responder in every workplace-related accident.
Ask a colleague to get a first aider to examine you. This is very important.
Please note that it is not recommended that you assume that you have a minor injury. It might seem minor at first but can turn out to be a lifetime condition if not well treated. Ensure that you get fully assessed by the first aider.
2. Seek Proper Medical Attention
If you are not satisfied with the first aid, you should run to the emergency room whether the first aider recommends it or not. Your health comes first. Have a colleague accompany you to the hospital as soon as possible.
These records will also protect you in case your employer, or their insurance company claims that your injuries were not work-related. Follow all instructions given by the doctor, do not miss an appointment, take your medication as prescribed, and keep a record of all medical-related expenses and any other paperwork like x-ray reports, scans, etc.
It will also help if you have photographic evidence of your injuries. Photos and videos cannot be quickly dismissed in case of a dispute. Taking lots of pictures or recording videos is the smart thing to do.
3. Report to Your Immediate Supervisor
Every organization has an accident reporting protocol. Whether you work directly under the director or is overseen by a supervisor, every accident should be reported to somebody in a managerial capacity. If you suffer a severe accident while at work, your employer is required by the law to report the same to the Health and Safety Executive.
Failing to report your accident appropriately can be considered a breach of the procedures. All incidences, including near misses, should be reported. This way, your employer will be able to re-evaluate the safety measures to prevent such an accident from happening again, and you will be on the right side of the law should you need to hire a workers' compensation attorney.
4. Record the Accident
Do not let your accident go unrecorded. It is common for employers to want to ignore this step so as not to affect their performance records. If you note that your employer is reluctant about this, try to leave some paper trail. You can send them an email, especially from your account.
Some employers, when they realize that your injuries can end up costing them a lot in terms of compensation, tend to find reasons to fire the injured employee. If you leave a paper trail, it will protect you from wrongful dismissal after an accident.
You can also use this evidence to claim constructive dismissal. However, speak to your attorney first before taking any action or resigning.
5. Fill out an Injury Report
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a specific report that employers are required to avail to their employees after an accident. This is your legal right, and you can demand to fill it out even if your employer does not find it necessary.
Remember, if you intend to claim compensation, such reports will come in very handy. Make sure that you get a copy for your records.
Whether or not you intend to file a lawsuit, you are still entitled to compensation if you have sustained an injury in the workplace. This is regardless of how it happened or who is to blame for it.
6. Submit a Grievance
Consider submitting a grievance after a workplace injury. If the accident was caused by defective equipment, a slippery surface, or you had to lift a heavy load manually, then you’ve all the right to complain to your employer.
Your employer should not hold a well-written grievance against you. If they do, you should bring this up during your claim. The employer is also required to investigate a complaint properly, otherwise, it is also grounds for a constructive dismissal claim.
7. Get Legal Help
Filing for a claim can be very complicated, especially if it is your first time. There are a lot of benefits that a worker is entitled to following a workplace injury. An experienced attorney will guide you through all the steps so that you can receive all the benefits that you are entitled to under your state’s law.
Take your time to find the right attorney. Claims also take a lot of time, with an attorney, you will have a helping hand to follow the claims as you focus on your recovery, especially if you had a major accident, or getting back to your job.
8. File a Claim
Different states have different laws when it comes to worker's compensation. However, it would be best if you claimed your compensation as soon as you can after an accident. You must file a claim within the first two years after your accident.
Failing to file a claim within the set time might cost you your benefits. Whether or not you have hired an attorney, try to file before the lapse of two years.
9. Keep a Good Record of All Losses and Expenses
The primary purpose of compensation is to ensure that you are back in the position that you should have been in if the accident never happened. Every case is different. For example, if you have lost some pay because of the accident, you should be able to recover it, if you were up for a promotion or was to receive some bonus, such losses should also be recovered.
In addition to this, all medical expenses that you incur should also be compensated. Have a clear record of all this, take pictures of receipts, trips to the hospital, and any other workplace injury-related bill. Be as accurate as possible so that your attorney can know how much settlement is right for you.
10. Things to Note after a Workplace Injury
There are a few more things that you need to have in mind:
Do not forget to let your co-workers know about the accident, especially if you were working alone. This is the best way to protect them from suffering the same fate
Ask a Reliable Co-Worker to Take Note of Any Changes at Work
Your employer might want to quickly cover up the accident or make it look like it was your fault. They will do this while you are away from work. A trusted co-worker will help ensure that the investigation is done right and they will also serve as a witness should there be a cover-up
Keep a Journal of All Your Symptoms
Do not only rely on what the doctors and nurses take note of. This is also the best way to have good records of how much damage the injury caused. Claims, like we said, can take years and by the time you need to show evidence you might be better already. You are still entitled to it, so have a good record and share the same with your workplace injury attorney
Worker's Compensation Laws Do Not Cover Injuries Sustained If There Was Alcohol or Drugs Involved
If, for example, you were intoxicated or was using any illegal drug at the time of the incident, you will not be entitled to a claim. Your employer can ask you to take a drug test under the new OSHA laws. Other injuries not covered include injuries sustained due to a fight or horseplay
Try not to ignore even the little things, you never know how much they can affect the claim.
Have All These in Mind When Dealing With a Workplace Injury
If you’ve sustained a workplace injury, you’re still entitled to a claim even if your manager blames you for the accident or you blame yourself. Legally your employer is still at fault, and you are entitled to some compensation.
The question of how much you will receive will depend on how well you keep your records, how much you can prove, your attorney, and more.
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