The sole remedy for injuries you sustained in the course of your employment is workers’ compensation in most states in the US. Workers’ compensation systems in theory were established for the protection of injured workers’ rights. However, navigating these systems has become harder than ever due to recent nationwide reform initiatives. There are a couple of steps that injured workers associations advise you to take after sustaining injuries in the course your employment. Taking these steps will help to ensure that your rights are protected and also make the compensation process itself go as smoothly as possible on your behalf.
Step 1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
After sustaining an injury on the job, the first thing you should do is to seek medical attention. At the hospital, make sure that you inform the medical professional tending to you that you were injured at work.
The law requires you to consult with a doctor regarding your injuries after receiving emergency treatment. Please note that workers compensation laws in some states allow your employer to choose the doctor you’ll have to see for medical care for injuries sustained at work. In such a case, the course of medical care you will require will be determined by your employer’s doctor.
In states that allow employees to choose their own physicians, you should choose a doctor who mainly treats workers’ compensation patients because of the onerous paperwork he or she will have to fill.
Step 2. Give Notice To Your Employer
The law in all states in the US requires injured employees to give notice of the accident they sustained at work to their employers. Even though some states allow you to give oral notice, injured workers associations highly recommend that you do it in writing so that you can keep a copy for yourself. You should also give this notice to your employer as soon as possible. Failure to do so in many states will bar your compensation claim.
Step 3. Fill The Necessary Claims Paperwork With Your State Workers’ Compensation Agency
All states provide time frames for filing of workers’ compensation claims. You are required to file this claim with your state agency on time. In most cases, failure to do this will void your claim and prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve.
As an injured worker, you are responsible for making sure that the state compensation agency files the proper claims forms. Please note that giving the notice to your employer and filing the claims form with the state agency are two separate and distinct requirements that must be fulfilled. Also, employers in many states are not required by law to report a work-related accident compensation claim even if you provide them with the notice on time. That is why it is important to file the necessary claims forms with your state workers’ compensation agency by yourself.
Step 4. Contact An Attorney Who Specializes In Workers’ Compensation Claims
You can choose to represent yourself in your compensation claim, however, this isn’t advisable. The best thing to do is to hire an attorney who specializes in these types of cases to represent you.