No one plans to get injured at work, but you need a plan if it happens to you. That way you can ensure all of your bases are covered in the event you need to file a workers’ compensation claim. Any misstep could prevent you from getting benefits that will help you make ends meet during your recovery. If the injury is permanent, having long-term benefits can be the difference between worrying about paying the bills and not worrying.
One of the first things you need to do is know which lawyer you’re going to call if an accident happens. Workers’ comp claims are time-sensitive and it is good to have legal guidance from the very start of the matter. The following is a breakdown of what you need to do in case you are injured at work.
1. Get Medical Treatment
Even if you feel fine, don’t turn down medical treatment. Not seeking first aid or other forms of treatment could play against you in a workers’ comp claim. The burden to prove that you were injured at work is on you and no one else, so you need this evidence.
You must also be seen by a health care provider that’s authorized by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board. That’s unless it’s an emergency. If your employer participates in a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) or an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program, the participating health care provider might come from one of these. Your employer should have provided you with any details regarding a PPO or ADR program at the beginning of your employment or when the program was put in place.
Another consideration is that the workers’ comp insurance carrier or your employer might require you to obtain diagnostic tests or prescriptions from certain facilities or pharmacies. You should have already been notified in writing of the pharmacies and facilities you’re permitted to use. If you don’t have this information, it’s important to acquire it.
Necessary medical expenses are paid by the employer’s insurance or directly by the employer if there are no disputes. A form A-9 might have to be signed by you. This form explains that you might be responsible for your medical bills if you don’t pursue a workers’ comp claim or workers’ comp turns the claim down.
2. Tell Your Supervisor about the Injury
Let your supervisor know about the injury as soon as you’re able. It’s best to do so in writing within 30 days of the accident. If an employee doesn’t notify their employer within that timeframe, the right to workers’ comp benefits could be lost.
When the injury is an occupational disease, notice must be given to the employer within two years of becoming disabled or within two years of acquiring knowledge that the disease was related to the job.
3. Call Your Lawyer and File a Workers’ Comp Claim
If you haven’t already called a lawyer, this is a good time to do so. You will have to complete a Form C-3 to file your workers’ comp claim and mail it to the nearest Workers’ Compensation Board office. If the claim isn’t filed in time, the right to benefits is lost.
In the case that your claim isn’t approved, there’s still hope. Many workers’ compensation claims aren’t approved the first time. Sometimes it is due to very small details. Your lawyer will evaluate why the claim was denied and file an appeal. More claims are approved upon appeal but can be taken into a lengthier legal process if the claim is still denied.
What to Do During and After Your Claim
Once you’ve taken the above steps, make sure you do the following:
- Do everything that the doctor tells you so that you can recover as quickly as possible
- If you’re required to go to an Independent Medical Examination (IME), go to it.
- When you are notified to appear at hearings, attend them.
- Do what is necessary to go back to work as soon as you can, if you’re not contending with a disability or terminal illness.
Following the proper steps for filing an injury claim and ensuring that you are in compliance every step of the way will yield a smoother process. Just keep in mind that an experienced lawyer is the first step toward full compliance with the claims process. That way you can get the compensation you need while you recover.