What To Do After an Accident at Work
An accident at work can happen when you least expect it. It is important, however, to know how to properly react to an accident or injury that takes place at work so that you can protect your legal rights. You may not be able to prevent an accident at work, but you can prepare for one by knowing what to do afterward.
Report the Accident to Your Employer
Report your workplace accident and injury to your employer without delay. Like most states, California has a law that requires injured employees to report work accidents within 30 days. If you wait too long to tell your employer about your injury, you may be barred from recovering financially through the workers’ compensation system.
Find a manager or supervisor and explain what happened right away. Request an official accident report that describes the accident and your injuries. If your employer does not remedy the safety hazard that injured you in a timely manner, you can report the safety violation to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to build a safer workplace.
Go to a Doctor or Hospital
Go to a hospital or doctor immediately after a work-related accident. Even if you feel fine initially, hidden or delayed symptoms may appear later – after it is already too late for proper medical care. Protect your physical health by visiting a doctor without delay. A doctor can diagnose your injury or illness right away and create a treatment plan that optimizes your odds of making a full recovery.
If your injury is an emergency, you can go to the nearest hospital or emergency room for care. Otherwise, you must go to a doctor that is in your employer’s network of providers. Ask your employer which doctors are part of the company’s workers’ compensation plan. After you have seen a doctor in your employer’s network, you have the right to request a second or third opinion, including an opinion from a doctor outside of the network if you believe the other doctors are mistreating or ignoring you.
Document Your Accident and Injuries
The strength of your injury claim will depend in large part on the evidence. Do your best to preserve and gather evidence from the very beginning of your workplace accident. Before you leave the scene of the accident, for example, take photographs of the hazard that injured you. Write down the names of everyone present who witnessed your accident. Ask your employer for any video surveillance footage that might have caught the accident on tape. It is also wise to keep an injury journal to document your personal experience, including pain and suffering.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The next step is to file a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer should fill out the required paperwork for you and submit it to the California Division of Workers’ Compensation by the deadline. You should then be contacted by your employer’s insurance provider to initiate the claims process.
Consult With a Workplace Accident Attorney
Before you accept a workers’ compensation settlement from an insurance company, consult with a Glendale workers’ compensation attorney about your other legal options. Once you say yes to a settlement, you can no longer bring an injury lawsuit against your employer. If you believe your employer is to blame for your injury or illness, therefore, it is worth speaking to an attorney before accepting a settlement. You may be able to recover greater financial compensation with an injury lawsuit – or file both types of claims, depending on the circumstances.
A work injury attorney can help you understand and defend your legal rights after an injury suffered on the job. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, for example, your lawyer can help you bring a lawsuit against one or more parties on the basis of negligence, instead. A lawyer will work tirelessly to protect your best interests and fight for maximum financial compensation on your family’s behalf.