What do I do when I am injured at work?
You know your job and you know what to do when things are running smoothly and when things go wrong. However, when you get injured you may be unsure about what to do and what to say. Here are some helpful hints for figuring out what to do when you get injured at work.
1. Report everything. If you get hurt at work you should report the accident to your superiors as soon as possible. Let them know exactly what happened and when it happened. It is easy when you have a specific injury, “I picked up a box and felt a sharp pain in my low back.” It is harder when the injury is due to the repetitive and forceful activities that you do at work. If you have pain and think it is work related let somebody know about it and see a doctor. You will need to report the claim to your employer as soon as a doctor tells you that your pain may be work related. Reporting every injury does not mean you are going to a doctor or hiring a lawyer every time. You are documenting that something happened. If you get hurt on Thursday but do not report it until the following Monday your employer may question your claim. Report the accident as soon as possible.
2. If you need medical care go get it. The longer you wait to get medical care the more likely your employer will question your claim. Also, delaying medical care may lead to a poor recovery. If you think you will be fine you do not have to seek medical care. However, if you need care, do not delay.
3. Tell every medical provider the same story. If you tell different stories to different people you will have great difficulty proving a claim. Also, be specific about exactly what happened. “I hurt my low back on line 158B while lifting a 25 lb. box of bolts at about 230pm today.” Is better than, “I think I did something to my back today on the line.”
4. Listen to your doctor. Do not ignore your doctor’s advice about restricting your activities or about getting medical care. This is good for your health and good for your case. You can do things within your doctor’s restrictions. However, if you do things beyond those restrictions you could hurt yourself and hurt your case. If your doctor says you should lift no more than 10 lbs. and the insurance company has a video of you lifting 40 lb. bags of soil while working in your backyard they will stop your benefits.
5. Always walk out of your doctor’s office with a note. That note should explain any medical restrictions. You should give a copy of the note to your employer or the insurance company and, of course, to your lawyer. You cannot get paid benefits without written proof of your disability.
6. Do not talk about your case. Talking about your injury on social media or with your coworkers can hurt your case. Things get back to your employer and they may take them out of context. Also, if you have an injury and your Facebook page shows you working on a project in your house you can harm your case. Do not assume that your privacy settings will keep an insurance company from finding out what you are doing.
7. Consult with a lawyer. There are no dumb questions. The only bad questions are the ones you didn’t ask. Know your rights and know your responsibilities. A member of our team is always available to answer your questions.