Injured at Work? What Now?
Most employers make a legitimate effort to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Whether motivated by goodwill, industry regulations or government safety requirements, the policies and procedures are designed to keep everyone on the job safe. But accidents happen. And when they do occur, what happens next? Continue reading to see what your options are after being injured at work.
Report the injury immediately.
If you are involved in an accident at work, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. Even if you are not sure if you have any injuries. This report is most likely required by your job. Employers have the responsibility of providing a safe working environment so even if no one is injured they need to be aware of all accidents. This gives them the opportunity to make any policy or procedure changes necessary to protect staff and customers and to prevent similar accidents from happening again.
Additionally, may need to report the accident if you intend to pursue a claim against the employer. In Oklahoma, workers must notify their employer within thirty (30) days of the accident or injury. If the employee fails to make this initial report to their employer, they may be prohibited from pursing any claim.
Your employer probably has a form like an incident report for you to use. Before completing the form, you should know the following information to make sure you communicate exactly what happened:
- Date of the accident.
- Names of everyone involved and witnesses, if any.
- Description of what happened and how the injury occurred.
- The nature of your injury.
- Any medical treatment received as a result of the injury.
You should keep a copy of this form and any other related documents with your other important documents at home.
Continue medical care.
Depending on the nature of the injury, you may have to undergo medical care after your initial injury. In addition, you may have to undergo a "fit for duty" medical examination for your employer before returning to work. Make sure you follow the instructions of your medical professionals and take all prescribed medications as ordered.
You will want to keep copies of all these records as well.
File a workers' compensation claim.
If you are injured at work, you may also have the option of applying for workers' compensation in your state. Workers' compensation is a no-fault insurance system that provides financial benefits for workers with either an injury or illness (e.g. high blood pressure) related to their job. This means that in most cases, the reason or cause of your at work accident or injury will not affect your eligibility for workers' compensation benefits.
Not all injuries at work are covered by workers' compensation. The time, location, and employee behavior that caused the accident could impact if coverage is available. This is an analysis that will most likely occur later by job injury lawyers and should not prevent you from reporting your injury to your employer or initiating a workers' compensation claim.
Filing requirements vary by state but you want to make sure that are prepared if you do choose to file a claim. In addition to the copy of your report to your employer and your medical records you will also want to maintain:
- Notes on how the injury affected your ability to do your job or the nature of your work.
- Your pay stubs and time sheets from both before and after your injury.
- Receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury. This includes transportation expenses (parking, taxi, etc.), insurance co-pays, over the counter medicine or payments for necessary medical equipment.
You will also want to make sure you keep all your medical appointments related to the injury.
What workers' compensation benefits are available?
If your injury is covered by workers' compensation in your state, you are entitled to benefits to help cope with the consequences of the injury. These benefits include:
- Reimbursement/payment of medical expenses incurred because of the injury at work
- Payments for lost wages
- Compensation for permanent disabilities
- Survivor or death benefits to families of employees who die due to a job-related injury
What if I need help?
Accidents will happen. Even at work. If you are injured on the job, contact your Oklahoma work injury attorney to get assistance. A professional familiar with the nuances of these complex issues is a great resource to consult in these situations and can help you understand applicable laws, regulations, and other factors relevant to your injury.