Injured At Work? What Now?
Thousands of hard-working individuals are injured at work every day. If you are reading this article, chances are, you are one of them. However, a majority of individuals have never heard of workers compensation or know they may be entitled to benefits. This article is aimed at informing injured workers the important steps they must take and what to expect in the early stages.
Steps You Must Take
You were injured at work. What do you do next? First, every employee should immediately report their injury to their supervisor/manager. This is an important step, because it gives your employer notice. If notification is not provided, your employer would not know to report your injury to their insurance carrier which causes exponential delays in your claim process. It is vital to report the injury as soon as possible.
Next, it is important to take note of any and all evidence. Take the names and contact information of any witnesses. Pictures, pictures, pictures! In this day and age, there is no excuse for forgetting to take pictures. Cameras are a standard feature on every cell phone on the market. Take a few shots of the location where the injury occurred. Write up a journal of everything that transpired. Everyone thinks they will remember exactly what happened. Unfortunately, that is not true. These easy steps will prove extremely helpful later down the line.
Steps The Employer Must Take
Once an injury is reported, the employer must hand you a claim form or DWC-1. If you haven’t been given one, do not worry; most employers do not know what this form is either. In short, this form gives you the opportunity to explain how your injury happened and what body parts you have injured. When filling out this form, it is especially important to list every single body part that you have injured.
Next, your employer will either make a claim with their workers compensation insurance carrier, or provide you with the information to do so yourself. You will most likely be sent to an occupational clinic to have your injuries addressed.
Once the claim is processed with the employer’s insurance carrier, an adjuster may get in touch with you. They may try to take a declaration of the events that led to the injury and request information. Initially, it is the adjuster’s duty to investigate your claim. They have 90 days from the date of notice, to either accept or deny your claim. If your claim is denied, all benefits will seize. However, during this 90-day period, it is the insurance company’s obligation to provide medical care up to $10,000. More often than not, claims are denied. They may be denied for a number of reasons. When a claim has been denied, the burden is on the injured worker to combat the denial and prove their case. This is usually accomplished by medical and circumstantial evidence (pictures, witnesses, etc.).
Do You Need An Attorney
It is not necessary to have an attorney. However, in today’s workers compensation system, the laws have become extremely technical and complicated. After filing a claim, it does not take very long for injured workers to realize that they are either confused or lost in the system. This is where an attorney can play a substantial role in making sure you get the benefits you are entitled to. Thus, it is recommended for any injured worker to at the very least, consult with an attorney. Many attorneys like myself offer free consultations.
The purpose of this article was to inform you about the initial stages of a workers’ compensation claim and what steps you should take. I hope this article was helpful for you.