There are 7 million workplace injuries per year. The most at-risk workers are in construction, manufacturing, and in retail. Because of the number of people employed in these industries and the frequency of accidents at work, the risk of injury is fairly high.
You do everything that you can to protect yourself from a workplace accident. Sometimes they just can’t be avoided. A bit of ice or water on the ground that causes you to slip, a malfunctioning machine that damages your arm or a leg, and suddenly, you are laid up for weeks, possibly months, not earning your living.
If you find yourself in this situation, here is what you need to do.
1. Inform your employer of the accident
You are legally required to inform your employer that you had an accident at the worksite. Do not neglect this step, even if you feel fine after an accident. This is a required step for claiming worker’s compensation. Also, if it came to it, later on, you don’t want your employer to be able to deny there was an accident at the site.
There is usually a process by which this has to happen. Most companies mandate that you report an accident to your immediate supervisor, as well as record the accident in the company’s accident book.
As an additional safeguard, you should also tell your work colleagues that you were in an accident if it occurred while you were alone. They have a right to protect themselves from having the same happen to them. It is important to log if there were witnesses to your accident, they may be important later.
2. Get treatment for any injuries sustained
If your accident results in an injury, definitely seek treatment. Even if you don’t think you need it. It will be good to get a doctor’s report either way. Keep this report in your records. Also, if you continue to be affected by your injury, do not hesitate to seek medical treatment.
Keep a record of these and all treatments or therapies you undergo to rehabilitate yourself after your injuries. Keep a journal of your progress as well as your pain management from day to day and emotional state.
3. Get photo/video evidence of the accident site
Any photographic or video evidence you can get of the accident site will be good. It is an unfortunate reality that sometimes employers attempt to cover up the scene of an accident.
If you are able to, this should be done as close as possible to the time the accident happened. If your injuries are too severe, have a trustworthy colleague take photos or record a video of the scene.
When at the doctor’s office, be careful what you say. Do not admit liability for the accident, especially if you are being examined by a doctor appointed by your company. It is likely they will report this to your employer.
4. File for Workers Compensation
Going back to step one, once you inform your employer of the accident, you should be given a workers compensation form to fill out. You are to fill out your information, then submit it to your company, who will fill out their section of the form and send it to their insurance company. The process of you receiving compensation should be relatively straightforward from here.
However, there are times you may need further assistance. Your claim may be denied, or your employer may not have worker’s compensation insurance. If this is the case, you can read more here to find out what to do. In most cases, a company not carrying workers’ compensation insurance is illegal.
Worker’s compensation rules also differ from state to state, so you may need specialist help from a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to determine what to do next. Depending on your situation, your employer may try to victimize you or even attempt to pressure you into quitting your job so that they do not have to compensate you for your injury. Having an attorney in a case like this is a good idea.
If you’re not sure whether you need one, most attorneys of this type will hear the details of your case for free and make a determination of whether they can help you or not. You don’t lose anything talking to one.
5. Keep a record of your expenses
Being injured on your job is not cheap. There’s the time away from work, which may cause you to lose money. There are the doctor’s fees and the cost of medication.
To ensure that you are compensated fairly, it’s always good to have a record detailing all the costs associated with your injury. It is also wise to document what income or opportunities you may have lost due to the injury as well.
6. Focus on getting better
It’s hard to focus on this when you have bills to pay and you are worried about everything surrounding the accident: collecting documents, getting photos and videos, filing claims, and all of it.
It is easy to forget that your primary goal, outside of getting the compensation you deserve, is getting better. This is why you should do your best to reduce stress and worry as best as you can. Follow your doctor’s instructions always. Complete all the physical and rehabilitative therapy assigned to you.
If you find that you are overwhelmed by trauma from the accident, feel free to schedule psychological counseling for yourself. Follow the advice given by the counselor to aid in easing your distress.
Feel free to add spa visits, aromatherapy, yoga, candles, meditation, whatever helps you remain stress-free throughout the process. Of course, if you’ve hired a lawyer, allow them to deal with the heavy lifting of the case
Being injured in a work accident can be inconvenient and expensive, but you do have options if the situation occurs. Following the above advice is the first step in protecting yourself.