A slip, a fall, a cut, or even a collision: There are a variety of ways you can be injured at work. No matter what your injury is, it’s going to take you out of work for a while and you need to find proper treatment to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
You’re in pain and you’re worried about how much all of this is going to cost.
Will your employer pay for you to see a doctor? How will you pay all your bills while you’re off work for a while? What happens if you can’t return to full duty?
Whether your injury occurred suddenly in an accident or because of repeated use, following a specific set of steps gives you the best chance of being covered for your treatment and any lost wages.
If you’ve been injured at work, here’s what you need to do next:
If you had a big accident and an ambulance was called, you may think everyone noticed your injury. However, you still need to cover your bases and report your injury to the direct supervisor on duty when you were injured.
In many cases, you can begin an injury report with a verbal accounting of your accident, but it’s best to put your notification in writing and keep a copy. Even a text message or email works in this case.
Just make sure your injury is reported to your employer within the window of time necessary to qualify under your state’s workers’ compensation laws.
Note: If you’re diagnosed with an illness or overuse injury that you believe is connected to conditions of your employment, such as carpal tunnel disease, report to your employer as soon as you and your doctor feel the ailment may be connected to your job.
Most workers’ compensation insurances require a written report of illness or injury before their coverage begins.
While most employers automatically start these reports as soon as they learn about your injury, you may have to prod your boss to get the paperwork started and get everything turned in.
Be sure the information in the report is accurate, including date, approximate time, and a narrative of the circumstances that lead up to your injury. Keep a copy for yourself in a safe place.
As soon as you’re able, go see a doctor for your illness or injury.
When you fill out your intake paperwork, be sure you let the doctor’s office know your treatment is part of a workers’ compensation claim. Provide them with as much information on your employer’s insurance information as you can, including the name and contact number of the person assigned to your case.
As you’re receiving information on follow-up appointments and treatment, be sure to keep these appointments. If you stop getting treated for your injuries, your employer’s insurance may take that as you’re not complying and may deny your case entirely.
Even if it doesn’t seem you need that check-in with your surgeon six months after surgery, show up to the appointment or, if you have a conflict, reschedule it at your earliest convenience.
Although it may seem cumbersome, keep all paperwork related to your injury and your case.
Keep appointment summaries, notes about your progress, communication between yourself and your employer’s insurance, and other information together in one place. It’s best to dedicate a folder or box to this paperwork, as it can easily pile up.
You may need that information down the line, and keeping it all in one place decreases the amount of searching you’ll need to do to find that one paper you need.
If your doctor says you can be released for light duty, or that you’re not ready to go back to work yet, keep your employer informed of this.
Again, putting it in writing is best, so quick post-appointment updates on your work status through text or email are fine.
If your doctor gives you an official work status note, make a copy for yourself and then give the original to your employer as soon as possible.
No one likes the thought of talking to an attorney, but a lawyer with knowledge of the workers’ compensation laws in your state can be a big help and give you peace of mind about your case.
If you’re worried about money, remember that most attorneys who take on workers’ compensation cases don’t require payment up front for their services; instead, they take injury cases on contingency and take a portion of your eventual awarded amount once your case is settled or heard.
You may be going stir crazy sitting at home all day, but don’t go out and mow the lawn or clean out those closets without express clearance from your doctor.
If you push yourself too hard and get injured again, it will slow your progress to returning to work and any additional treatment will not be covered by workers’ compensation.
Instead, try to find new hobbies or interests to take up while you’re laid up. Have you ever wanted to learn to knit, or play the guitar, or dig into that huge pile of books on your nightstand? Now’s your time!
The more you follow your doctor’s directions now, the better your overall improvement will be and the more quickly you may be able to return to work.
At the Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics - MMI Division, we want you to get better and get back to work as quickly as possible following a work-related injury. Our team of experienced doctors, physical therapists, and staff can help you through the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process to get you back to work faster.
We also have a dedicated workers’ compensation coordinator who works with your nurse case manager or claims adjuster, making the process less stressful for you.
Schedule your appointment today!