Few things are more frustrating than getting injured while on the job. Not only is there the physical pain that comes with sustaining the injury, but there’s also the emotional toll that comes with it.
How will I make money? Is my future with the company jeopardized? How can I possibly afford the medical care I need?
Questions like these rattle around in your head – and the answers aren’t always clear – but it’s important to know that you have rights. How you proceed will determine whether or not these rights are maximized and protected.
5 Things You Should Know
It depends on the industry and which activities you participate in, but the most common workplace injuries include: on-the-job violent acts, repetitive motion injuries, machine entanglement, vehicular accidents, walking-into injuries, falling object injuries, reaction injuries, falling from heights, slipping/tripping, and overexertion injuries.
Whether it’s one of these injuries, or something entirely different, here are some important items you need to know:
1.- Workers’ Compensation Laws Vary
There are major discrepancies in workers’ compensation laws from state to state. It’s important that you do some research in your state to understand which rights you have. However, generally speaking, there are some rights that apply across the board. These include:
- You have the right to file a claim for an injury or illness in workers’ compensation court.
- You have the right to see a doctor and/or pursue medical treatment in a timely manner.
- If your physician releases you to return to work, you have the right to return to your job.
- If you’re unable to return to work, you have the right to some type of disability compensation.
These are just a few examples of the rights you have. Speak with an attorney to learn about the other ones that are applicable in your jurisdiction.
2 – You Should File an Accident Report
In many states, you have a very short window of time where you can report an accident (if you want to be covered under workers’ compensation). This is problematic when you don’t immediately realize that you’re hurt or injured.
Because of the finicky nature of state laws, be sure you report an accident right away (even if you aren’t positive that you’re hurt).
3 – Third Party Negligence May Come Into Play
Sometimes on-the-job injuries are actually caused by someone other than the employer. Knowing which rights you have against a negligent third party is important.
“Typically, these claims are not filed in the workers’ compensation universe,” Nolo explains. “Rather, they take the form of civil lawsuits and are filed in state or federal courts.”
4 – Undocumented Workers Have Rights, Too
Some people think they won’t qualify for workers’ compensation or on-the-job injury claims because of extenuating circumstances, but you’d be surprised how many rights you really have.
For example, even undocumented workers have rights after a workplace injury. In most states, it’s against the law for an employer to deny workers’ benefits based on a worker’s immigration status. Everyone has the right to medical treatment, regardless of the circumstances.
5 – Always Pursue Medical Care
You should seek out professional medical care as soon as possible following an accident at work. Even if you aren’t seriously injured enough to go to the emergency room, you should be seen by a doctor. Ask your employer if they require you to see a certain doctor, or if you’re able to choose your own.
Develop a Game Plan
It’s important that you don’t neglect a workplace injury or try to “tough it out.” There’s nothing noble about attempting to work through an injury when it has the potential to compromise your career, health, and finances. Develop a plan and work towards a solution.