It can and does happen that on any given day you can get injured while at work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) around 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2017. It’s an unfortunate situation, yet anyone working in any industry is prone to a workplace accident. But before you rush into making an accident claim, you need to know the facts and find out if you’re eligible or not to make a claim.
Almost all employers must have worker compensation and insurance coverage, according to state law. We’ll cover here some basic information about workplace accidents, your legal rights and what to do if you’re subject to an accident.
To be eligible for workers’ compensation, there are 4 criteria:
- You must be an employee of the company: Not everyone who works for a company is an actual employee. While it varies from state to state, usually freelancers, independent consultants, and other workers who are not under contract with the company are often not considered for workers’ compensation.
- The employer must have workers’ compensation insurance: Not every employer has workers’ compensation, although the majority do because state laws require it. Compensation will vary according to the state, the type of industry, and the number of employees. You can often receive benefits in work-related accidents, but benefits differ from compensations. Compensation involves a monetary payment, while benefits may be in other forms.
- Your injury or illness must be work-related: In many cases, it’s clear that the injury is work-related, such as hurting your back when loading or unloading packages, or using unsafe machinery. At other times, it’s not always easy to figure out, but a professional attorney will guide you to know and take care of what is owed to you.
It’s good to note what the most common types of work injuries are:
- Slips and trips
- Falling objects
- Hazardous material accidents
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Overexertion when lifting
- Colliding into objects or co-workers
- Workplace violence
- Company car, company bus accidents
- Make a claim within the deadline: Many people don’t realize that a claim has to be made as early as possible. Most states do not provide a long duration of time to make a claim, meaning you can miss the deadline.
Attorney Lakota R. Denton says that you should not speak with an insurance adjuster before speaking with a personal injury lawyer as it will hurt your chances of receiving compensation. When making a compensation claim, it’s imperative to have someone who understands the legal implications, as well as conduct the dialogue between you, the insurance company, employer, and any other party involved.
Initial steps to take
Once you are in a work-related accident, there are a few steps you need to take immediately. These steps will help you later on to make a claim.
Report the accident: You have to file an accident report to the right authorities so that it goes on public record that an accident has happened. You must also inform your employer or boss as well as colleagues immediately. This is regardless of whether the injury is severe or not. It may get worse later on or even a couple of days later. This will make it difficult to prove that it’s a work-related injury if your employer doesn’t know about it at the time it happened.
Take pictures: If the injury is evident, taking pictures of it at the time will help with your claim.
See a doctor: Firstly, you must seek a doctor quickly for your own health reasons. Alongside that, the longer you wait to see a doctor after having filed an accident report, the more likely your compensation claim can be turned down. In all cases, you need to see a doctor on the day of the accident.
Contact an attorney: Your employer may not know about all the legalities or feed you with the wrong information. You need an expert by your side throughout the entire process and this is your right. Contacting a workers’ compensation lawyer will undoubtedly help you to secure your rights.
Know your rights
It is never pleasant when you or someone you know gets caught up in an accident at work, but being able to get some help is never a bad thing. Knowing and understanding your rights can often be complicated. Having a professional attorney specialized in these types of cases is often a must if you want to get a full understanding of where you stand and your rights. This will allow you to put your mind at ease and help you recover quicker when you’re confident that you will get what you rightfully deserve.