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Many companies institute programs and policies to keep their employees safe and secure while at work. However, despite this effort, injuries still happen. This applies even to workplaces that do not seem dangerous, such as office buildings. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover the expenses you incur after an injury, but it may not always cover everything.
If you are suffering from an injury at work and don’t know what your next steps should be, call Zinda Law Group at (512) 246-2224 for a free case evaluation with an attorney. If we don’t reach a favorable outcome in your case, you don’t owe us anything.
Steps to Take After a Workplace Injury
With workplace injuries, the saying “A stitch in time saves nine” is often very applicable. Following the proper procedure from the very beginning can often save a large amount of hassle that may result if you don’t follow the protocol. With that in mind, here are the steps that you should take after being injured at work.
1. Report the Injury
First and foremost, report the injury to your supervisor or HR department. Tell them how and why the injury happened, and what you are currently feeling as a result. Be as thorough as possible, and don’t be embarrassed to report what might seem to you like a minor injury. In addition, be sure to report the injury in writing.
2. Get Necessary Medical Treatment
Seek the necessary medical treatment for your injuries as soon after your accident as possible. There are a few reasons to complete this step as quickly as possible. One, an injury that might seem relatively insignificant now could eventually become a larger problem down the road if left untreated. In addition, if your case becomes contentious, an employer or insurance company may argue that a large amount of time between the injury and treatment means that your injury wasn’t really that bad.
3. Document the Accident
After you have reported the incident and sought medical treatment, start to collect all of the documents that may become important to your claim. This includes things like medical records, receipts for repairs to the property that you may have had to make, and documentation of the work that you missed, if applicable. In addition, take comprehensive pictures of the accident scene.
4. Fill Out Necessary Paperwork
If your company has educated you on what to do after a workplace injury, follow their instructions very closely. Depending on what state you live in, you may be required to give written notice to your employer. After the employer is notified, you may have to fill out a workers’ compensation claim form in order to collect benefits. An experienced attorney in your state may be able to inform you of the applicable rules and how to put yourself in the best position possible.
Workers’ Compensation Explained
Simply put, workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that protects businesses and their employees when an employee suffers an injury at work. The business or employer will pay a defined amount to an insurance company, who, in turn, contracts to help cover the lost wages and medical expenses of the injured employee. In addition to medical expenses and lost wages, workers' compensation may also cover the cost of vocational rehab. The premiums and requirements for companies vary from state to state based on the types of jobs that are commonly worked there.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the requirements for workers’ compensation coverage varies from state to state. Most states mandate that employers with at least three or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance, but some states, including Texas, do not. A company that does not have workers’ compensation insurance in a state where this is allowed is what is known as a non-subscriber. Non-subscriber companies do not have to pay workers’ compensation insurance premiums, but they may also be more open to lawsuits.
Seeking Compensation for Workplace Injuries
Compensation From Subscribing Employers
Workers' compensation provides a streamlined way for employees who are injured on the job to seek compensation for medical bills and lost wages, regardless of whether the injury was the fault of the employee or the employer. Typically, workers' compensation insurance will provide for full coverage of your medical expenses, as well as replace a percentage of your weekly wages. However, it is difficult to file a claim against your employer if workers' compensation is not sufficient to cover your injuries—companies who opt into workers' compensation plans have near-complete protection from lawsuits.
Compensation From Non-Subscribers
As mentioned in the previous section, non-subscriber is the term for companies who do not have workers' compensation coverage. If you work for a non-subscriber, the results of an accident could potentially be devastating, leaving you with only your personal medical insurance to pay for medical bills, and depending on the goodwill of your employer to cover the wages you may lose. When an employer is a non-subscriber, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to seek compensation.
Common Causes of Workplace Injuries
Because the term “workplace” can mean anything from a crab fishing boat off the coast of Alaska to a cubicle in a major metropolitan area, there can be lots of causes of workplace injuries. However, a few of the more common causes are listed here.
This is commonly the cause of injuries in workplaces that require some sort of repetitive physical motion, for example, a storeroom or warehouse worker. Lifting heavy objects consistently or working on your hands and knees consistently can lead to strain on your muscles and joints. To avoid injuries from overexertion, avoid bending, reaching, and twisting when lifting, and make sure to take short breaks when you need them.
Contact with Objects and Equipment
This sort of injury can occur if you work in an area with large machinery that is in motion—the most common example being a factory or manufacturing plant. To prevent these sorts of injuries, make sure to follow your employer’s safety protocol, including how to use the machinery and the protective equipment that you must wear. Common workplace accidents due to equipment include:
- Ladder accidents
- Scaffolding accidents
- Improper assembly accidents
- Nail gun accidents
- Defective machinery accidents
- Glass injuries
- Oil rig and fracking accidents
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Trip and falls can occur in any workplace. They are more common, however, when employees are constantly on their feet on surfaces that could be slippery or uneven, such as roofs, ladders or scaffolding. If you work in a potentially hazardous environment, be very careful when choosing your steps, and in addition, make sure to place the bases of ladders very carefully if this is a part of your job.
Common Workplace Injuries
Just like the causes of workplace injuries, there are many possible injuries that can occur given the diverse nature of workplaces that exist. However, some of the more commonly suffered injuries are:
Repetitive Motion Injuries
The most common example of a repetitive motion injury is carpal tunnel syndrome, which can result from typing. To avoid these injuries, take breaks and take advantage of ergonomic work equipment.
Concussions and Head Injuries
Any time your head is impacted, whether it be by a piece of equipment or the ground, a concussion or other head injury is possible. However, it is important to remember that head injuries can occur even if the head is not directly impacted. If you think that you may have suffered a head injury, seek medical attention as quickly as possible, as these injuries can become very serious if left untreated.
Sprains, Strains, or Tears
Muscle damage can result from a wide variety of causes. Some of the more common include improper lifting techniques and slip and falls. Sprains, strains, or tears may require extensive therapy or rehab to get your body back in working order.
How to File a Claim for an Injury at Work
After an injury at work, the process for seeking compensation could vary greatly depending on your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. Generally speaking, these are the steps that you should take after an injury.
1. Report the Injury
As mentioned previously, this step is very important. Make a thorough report, in writing, to your supervisor or HR department. After this, follow your company’s procedures for filing for workplace compensation by filling out all of the necessary paperwork.
2. Contact an Attorney
An experienced workplace injury attorney in your state may be able to tell you whether you might be able to file a claim outside of workers’ compensation, or, if your employer is a non-subscriber, whether your claim is likely to be successful.
3. Gather Information
After you have hired an attorney, they may be able to go about gathering the information that they will need to be able to assist you in your case. This includes things like documents gathered by your employer, medical records, and photos of the workplace that may be available.
4. Negotiate a Settlement
Once they have the necessary information, your attorney may be able to begin settlement negotiations with the other party or parties. At this point, an experienced attorney may be able to draw on experience from past settlements in order to accentuate the strengths of your claim while minimizing its potential weaknesses.
Zinda Law Group May Help
If you have been injured at work, do not hesitate to contact Zinda Law Group.
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