Workplace injuries are frightening, but they’re easier to handle if you’re prepared ahead of time. In many cases, what you do immediately after the incident will ensure that you recover more swiftly, both physically and mentally.
This is especially the case when you file a workers’ compensation benefits claim. Any actions taken in the first 24 hours following an injury are critical for getting what’s owed you in the event of a workplace injury.
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If you or someone else is injured on the job, here are some things you should do immediately following the incident.
1. Be Proactive Ahead of Time: Devise an Injury Plan
It’s too late to think about a plan for injuries after the fact. Things will always go much smoother and more safely if you have a carefully formulated plan to address a workplace injury.
If your employer does not have one, speak to management about getting one started. After a plan has been formulated, there should be regular workplace trainings on what to do when an injury incident happens.
Have forms ready so the paperwork portion of handling an injury goes smoothly.
2. Assess the Injury
When you have to deal with an actual injury, start with a visual assessment. Don’t move the victim unless he or she is able to move on the person’s own, and try to determine whether medical attention is necessary.
Ideally, have a staff member who’s trained in first aid assess the injury. That individual can document the type and severity of the injury and determine if further medical attention is necessary.
3. Get a Medical Assessment
In most cases, it’s advisable to undergo a doctor’s examination following a workplace injury. Not only will this protect your health and well-being, but it also works in your favor when you file your workers’ compensation claim.
Don’t delay the visit to the doctor. Go to an established clinic with a good reputation in your community. A well-founded doctor’s note is required to support a claim, and the sooner you receive medical attention, the more effective the information will be in supporting your claim.
4. Take Photographs and Interview Witnesses
Unless you have documented proof, a workers’ compensation claim can be a case of “your word against theirs.” It’s nice to think your employer will back you up if you’re injured, but that’s not necessarily going to be the case.
Photograph the injury, the site, any safety hazards that may have contributed to the incident, and anything else that might be pertinent to your case. Write down witness statements and include them when you file your claim.
This will all serve as an extra layer of protection when you seek compensation. You may hope you won’t need them, but if there’s a problem with your case, you’ll be grateful that you do.
5. File an Accident Report While the Details Are Fresh
Timely reporting of injuries is vital for a successful claim. Not only does it speed things along, but it also offers an accurate depiction of what happened while the details are fresh.
According to research from Hartford Financial Services Group, workers’ compensation claims get longer and more expensive the longer you delay in filing. Their findings showed that claims reported in the third or fourth week following an incident resulted in as much as 45 percent higher settlement costs.
Speedy filing works in the favor of both the employee and the employer, and guarantees faster settlement.
6. Know Your Rights
In some cases, your workers’ compensation settlement may not be enough to cover medical bills, lost wages, and your altered lifestyle, especially if the injury disabled you. If that’s the case, you’ll want to retain an attorney to fight for your right to compensation.
You may not be aware of certain laws and guidelines that govern workplace injuries. Your attorney will walk you through your rights and make sure you’re covered after an accident.