An injury at work can be traumatic and frustrating. Workplace injuries are also not uncommon. Many workers slip, fall, or face other accidents. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,190 workers faced fatal injuries in 2021. The numbers were up by 8.9% compared to 2020.
When it comes to non-fatal injuries, the numbers go even higher. The private industry employers alone reported 2.6 million non-fatal injuries in 2021. In this post, we’ll discuss what happens if you’re hurt while working and what you need to do to protect yourself in the aftermath of an accident.
Get the Medical Attention First
If you are injured on the job, you must seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait for an appointment with a doctor or attempt to handle the situation yourself. Do not try to fix any problems. Instead, seek help from someone trained in workplace accidents and injuries. Finally, do not hide your injury from your employer. This could result in legal trouble if they discover later that they were unaware of the injury at hand.
Don’t worry; if you are the right talent, even your employer will take measures to retain you. Most employers know that offering the right care can help retain the best employees, as it is well documented. A study published in the BMC Public Health journal shows that providing medical accessibility and rehabilitation were the top predictors for returning to work for employees who sustained workplace injuries.
Document Every Aspect of the Accident
Keep a journal of your progress. If you are injured, tracking how you feel and what symptoms arise is essential. If possible, take photographs of the scene, your injury, and any damage caused by the accident. You should also write down any other information that may be relevant, which includes the following:
- Time and date
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses
- Name and address of employer or supervisor
- Details about co-workers
- Whether workers’ compensation forms were filed with an insurance company immediately, etc.
The sooner you report an accident to a supervisor or someone else in charge, the more likely sufficient documentation will be available later for legal proceedings. These legal proceedings can include workers’ compensation claims or lawsuits against an employer responsible for providing safe workplace conditions but failing its duty.
Documenting everything is important for both parties, employee and employer. An employee needs this to prove the accident and whose fault it was. Employers, too, have to keep records of accidents according to OSHA’s guidelines.
Start Preparing to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you’re injured on the job, it’s essential to start preparing to file a workers’ compensation claim immediately. The information you collected in the last step can also help establish whether there was negligence on behalf of your employer or co-workers.
Did someone fail to follow safety protocol? Did someone make an unsafe decision by using machinery that wasn’t working correctly? Or did another person disregard established safety rules? All these issues will factor into determining whether or not an employer was legally responsible for causing harm because they didn’t take enough precautions to keep their workers safe from workplace accidents.
If it was your employer’s fault, you could seek compensation for medical expenses and other sufferings. A lawyer can be helpful here. For instance, a driver was injured at the Valley Proteins plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina. If it is found that the injury was caused due to the employer’s negligence, the driver can take the help of a Fayetteville personal injury lawyer to file a lawsuit.
The attorney will help investigate the case and determine if a lawsuit claim can be made based on the documentation you have done. Moreover, the lawyer will also have the law knowledge and expertise required to proceed with filing and winning the claim.
Cooperate With the Investigation
The first thing you should know is that you do not have to answer any questions from your employer or insurance company. If they ask, you can say, “I prefer not to answer that question.” You also have the right to have a lawyer present during your investigation and hearing.
Even if you file a workers’ compensation claim, your employer can’t fire you for doing so. You may need some time off from work until your injuries heal and/or get treatment, which is perfectly fine. The law requires employers to allow injured employees reasonable time off until they can return safely without risking further harm or injury.
File Your Claim as Soon as Possible
It’s essential to file your claim as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less likely you will receive compensation. It doesn’t matter if you think your injuries are not severe or don’t hurt at all. You should still file a claim with your employer and get medical attention immediately. There are many reasons why workers may delay filing their claims:
- They might not realize that they have certain rights in relation to workplace accidents and injuries, or
- They may be afraid of losing their job if they report an accident or injury on the job
If this describes you, find out what options are available for compensation when someone else causes injury on the job. Discuss your case with an attorney specializing in this area of law before filing a lawsuit against the responsible party.
Do Not Sign Anything Without Talking to an Attorney
You may be tempted to sign a document that looks like a release or waiver, but remember that these are often designed to protect the company rather than you. Signing one could mean giving away your right to receive compensation for your injuries. A lawyer can help you understand what’s in the contract and make sure your rights are protected.
If an employer tries to get you to sign something without discussing it with an attorney, find out why they don’t want you speaking with one and ask them if they will pay for the lawyer themselves. If not, continue asking questions until they agree to talk with their attorney and explain fully what they expect from their employees, including any potential costs associated with their claims.
You must be aware of your legal rights when injured on the job. As a worker in California, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for injuries on the job. However, it can be challenging to know how to go about obtaining these benefits if you do not understand how this system works. We hope this guide has helped clarify some of these questions for you.