On average, there are more than 8,000 workplace injuries and illnesses in the United States every day. These injuries can happen in any sector, to any type of worker. They also have many causes, from the worker who pulls their back by lifting a heavy object to the worker who suffers a fall-related injury because of a slippery surface.
Workers’ compensation benefits provide protection to workers by offering payment for lost wages and medical bills resulting from a workplace injury. These benefits are no-fault, which means that employers and insurers shouldn’t withhold payment based on who was responsible for the injury.
If you’ve never suffered a workplace injury requiring time off, you might have questions about what you should do after suffering an on-the-job accident. Here are five things to keep in mind:
- Notify your employer or supervisor. It’s important to let your employer know about the workplace injury as soon as possible. This ensures that you will get benefits sooner and that your claim won’t be disputed. It’s best to notify your employer in writing, if possible.
- Seek immediate medical attention. To know the true scope of your injury and to make sure you get the treatment you need, you should see a doctor immediately. A doctor can tell you how much time you might need to take off work and give you thorough testing, treatments and medications for your condition.
- Keep records of everything. Keep copies of every document, bill or other correspondence involving your injury. Make a copy of the letter you give your employer and the bills your doctor gives you following your visit. Your employer, insurer or attorney might find these documents helpful in determining compensation. Additionally, if a dispute arises in the wake of a claim, you will have documents to show the date of your injury and the costs of your bills.
- Don’t return to work until you have recovered. Whether you are the type of worker who hates missing work or you are under pressure to return as soon as possible, it’s important to remember that rushing the recovery process can cause you further harm and lead to even more time off work. Take your time and be sure that you are capable of doing your job before returning to your job.
- Consult a workplace injury attorney if you have problems getting your benefits. In some cases, a worker is given less payment than they deserve or is denied benefits entirely. If you’ve encountered resistance from employers or insurance providers, talk to an attorney familiar with worker injuries and workers’ compensation. They will know the best way to proceed.
While most workers are covered by workers’ compensation insurance programs, they might find that the process is more challenging than it should be. Ideally, you would notify your employer of your injury, seek treatment, get your benefits and return to work only if or when you are able. However, some workers might find obstacles at any point in that process.