Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | August 23, 2022 | Workplace Accidents
Despite our best intentions, injuries happen every day. Workplace injuries are especially common and can negatively impact your finances and personal life. In fact, in 2020, approximately 3.2 million people were injured at work, and the cost of these injuries and related illnesses ranged from $176 billion to $352 billion.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a workplace accident, we understand how difficult it can be to evaluate your options, and we are here to help. This short guide will discuss what to do after a workplace injury and answer FAQs about workplace injuries.
The Definition of a Workplace Injury
A workplace injury is an injury you obtain during your workday or caused by repetitive actions undertaken at work. For instance, carpal tunnel syndrome obtained from repetitive typing as part of your job may be considered a workplace injury.
Another example is back pain triggered by lifting heavy boxes at work. A good way to evaluate a workplace injury is to consider it something that qualifies you for worker’s compensation.
Steps to Take If You’ve Been Hurt at Work
Now that you better understand what constitutes a workplace injury, let’s consider what you should do if you’ve been hurt at work. Although the precise steps may vary depending on the nature of the injury, here are general moves you should make after you have been hurt at work:
- Seek medical care. Your health should be a top priority, so no matter how small the injury is, seek medical help and tell your doctor how you obtained the injury so that information can be documented.
- Get copies of your records: These copies include details of medical record receipts, x-rays, consultations, and pictures of the accident scene. Additionally, gather witness testimony, work history, earnings history, and worker’s compensation reports.
- Inform your employer about the incident: Report your workplace injury to your employer in writing within 30 days. While you have the option to communicate it verbally, you should always put something in writing to confirm that you have told your employer and to minimize the risk of not having proof when you file a claim for compensation.
- Fill out the worker’s compensation forms: Fill out the injury/illness claim forms as prevailing in your state’s law. For example, in New York, you have to file the C-3 forms available on the NY state worker’s compensation board website.
- Become familiar with your state’s worker compensation system and your rights.
DO NOT sign any documents or paperwork with your company before knowing its repercussions or before taking legal advice from an experienced work accident lawyer.
Understanding Worker’s Compensation Benefits
Worker’s compensation is a commercial insurance policy offered by the federal government that protects employers from liability and provides compensation to workers who are injured in a workplace accident without requiring proof of the fault of the employer or other parties.
This program provides the following medical benefits:
- Temporary disability: This compensation serves as wage replacement until the employee recovers.
- Permanent disability: This compensation is provided per the loss of earning capability the employee will face because of the permanent injury.
- Medical treatment: This is the reimbursement of the medical expenses for the injuries sustained by the employee.
- Job retraining voucher: This is a non-transferable voucher to help an employee re-enter the workforce who cannot return to their old job due to workplace injury.
Injuries that are disqualified from worker’s compensation are ones that:
- You obtained outside of work
- Ones you inflicted upon yourself
- Injuries obtained during a fight at work
- Accidents that involved violating company safety policies
- Injuries obtained during the commission of a crime
These are just examples. There are additional exceptions and nuances to workers’ compensation, but a lawyer can help you work through each of them.
How a Work Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you have a work-related injury that you think may qualify for workers’ compensation, you can fill out the paperwork yourself. However, a personal injury attorney can help you complete paperwork for a workplace injury claim and can ensure it is filled out correctly. They can also help:
- Appeal the denial of insurance claims
- Discuss possible legal options
- Calculate your benefits
- Negotiate with the insurance company
And much more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that we’ve discussed what constitutes a workplace injury, injuries that might be disqualified from compensation, and how an attorney can help, let’s consider common FAQs.
Who Isn’t Covered by Worker’s Compensation Insurance?
Workers’ compensation insurance does not cover business owners, agricultural employees, business partners, sole proprietors, and independent contractors.
If your employer doesn’t have worker’s compensation insurance, then it’s best to contact your state’s labor department or worker’s compensation office and speak with an experienced workplace accident lawyer who can guide you on how to secure your claim.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Workplace Injuries?
Yes, there’s a statute of limitations applicable to workplace injuries, specifically when it comes to informing the employer and filing the insurance claim. In New York, you’ll have 10 days to inform your employer of your injury in most instances, and you’ll generally have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If I’m Hurt or Get Sick at Work, Can I See My Doctor, or Do I Have To Be Treated by the Company’s Doctor?
In most US states, the employer/insurer has the right to choose which medical provider the employee can see, thereby restricting the use of your doctor and the employer’s liability. However, as per the federal employee compensation act, you’ll be eligible to choose your doctor initially if you are a federal employee.
An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
Hopefully, you now understand workplace injuries better and what to do if you are hurt at work. Although you can file a claim for worker’s compensation yourself, an experienced personal injury attorney can help make the process easier.