TEN BASIC RULES FOR PEOPLE INJURED AT WORK

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If you are injured at work you must report it as soon as possible to your supervisor. Be specific when describing the injury, and state clearly that it happened at work. Even if you report it late, the employer must turn it in to their workers’ compensation carrier. Get a copy of the incident report.

You have the right to see a doctor immediately when you are injured.  In an emergency you can go to any doctor, in other injuries, the employer/workers’ compensation insurance carrier may have the right to send you to a doctor in a managed care network, such as Occupational Physician Services or Baptist Worx. 

Describe exactly how the injury occurred to every doctor or emergency room attendant, and where you were working when it happened.  Explain why you are there and what your immediate problems are.  The doctor may ask about prior injuries or problems, but clearly you were working before your injury.  Get off-work slips, prescriptions and referrals to specialists.  Keep copies. 

Find out your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier and make sure that they were given information about your injury.  Give your medical bills to your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier and do not claim under your medical insurance or S&A benefits. 

Two-thirds of your average weekly wage is paid seven days after your first day off work.  If you are off more than fourteen days, your temporary disability is paid back to the first day off. 

A formal claim must be filed or settled within two years of the date of injury or two years from the date of the last workers’ compensation insurance payment for temporary disability (not medical payment).  If a claim is not filed or settled within two years, you will lose all rights to benefits for that injury, including medical treatment.

If there has been a safety violation committed by the employer, benefits can be increased by 30%.  If the employee caused the injury by disregarding a safety regulation, their workers’ compensation benefits could be reduced by 15%.

If you have a surgery or are told by your doctor that you will never be able to return to your job, call a lawyer experienced in workers’ compensation.

If the injury is caused by the actions of a third party who is not working for the same employer, there could be a separate civil suit for pain and suffering.  In construction injuries, an injury caused by a fellow subcontractor or a “down-the-ladder” contractor may give rise to a civil suit. 

In very serious injuries, especially ones that cause you to lose your job, you will need a lawyer for workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability, long term disability benefits or a third-party lawsuit.  People who try to “go it alone” are at a disadvantage when negotiating with an insurance company.  The insurance company has its lawyers, and they are not responsible for looking out for your interests.

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