Most people go through their lives never once considering that they could get hurt on the job. However, it happens to roughly 3.8 million Americans each year. What would you do if you were hurt in an accident at work?
If you’re unsure, don’t panic. Those 3.8 million workers are probably in the same boat. Even if you work at a relatively safe job, it never hurts to know what your rights are in this kind of situation. Here’s what to do after an accident at work.
File a Report
The number one mistake most employees make is saying, “I’m fine,” and neglecting to file an accident report. While you might feel okay at first, you could find painful symptoms from your injury showing up weeks or even months later.
There’s often an incredibly short timeframe for employees to fill this form out, allowing them to seek worker’s compensation down the road. Whether you think you’re injured or not, you should file a report to ensure you’re covered.
See Your Doctor
It isn’t uncommon to not notice an injury at first, but any personal injury attorney will tell you that most accidents comes with delayed symptoms. What might seem like a simple fall could lead to head, muscle, or even bone injuries that simply aren’t noticeable for a short time.
You should visit with your primary care physician as soon as possible after your accident to determine if there are any underlying symptoms. In some cases, your employer might ask you to see a specific doctor. However, you’re well within your right to get a second opinion if you feel that you need to.
If one or both visits rule out any injuries, then there’s nothing to worry about. If a doctor does discover that your accident directly caused an injury, however, then there are a few more steps to take.
Filing for Compensation
Your employer must file a worker’s compensation claim through their insurance company on your behalf, should you have an injury. It is your responsibility to let them know that a doctor has deemed you injured and that this is the course of action you wish to take.
It’s also essential to follow up with the claim, ensuring your employer filed it like they were supposed to it. You’re also entitled to a copy of the claim, which you should hold for your records. You might need a copy in the event that this claim goes to court.
Lawsuits and Barred Claims
The majority of states forbid you from filing an additional lawsuit outside of worker’s compensation over an injury. That might seem like the law is slighting you, but an ADA defense attorney in California says that this rule works in your favor. Should the claim go to trial, it’s much easier to win a case in worker’s compensation law because you do not have to prove employer negligence. Instead, you only have to show you were hurt at work.
The exception to that rule is when drugs, alcohol, or asbestos are involved. You can file an additional lawsuit if you suffer from an asbestos-related illness. However, you cannot seek compensation even under worker’s comp if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident. Your employer will most likely administer a drug test immediately after your accident.