Whether you slipped and fell while walking from a meeting back to your office cubicle, got injured while operating heavy machinery or hurt by hazardous chemicals, being injured while at work is unfortunate. Work-related injuries can be expensive, with costs related to medical bills and income lost due to time away from work affecting your finances. Whatever the cause of the accident or the circumstances surrounding it, there are procedures in place that must be followed by both employees and employers upon the occurrence of a work-related accident.
Generally, except for some exceptions such as agricultural employees, domestic employees and independent contractors, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. In order for employees to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, certain procedures must be followed in a timely manner.
Take care of your health.
If you are hurt while on the job, first and foremost, take care of your health. If the accident results in an emergency, contact 911 to receive immediate medical care. In the event of an emergency, medical personnel do not need to be pre-authorized by the insurance company. If the accident requires you to take non-emergency medical attention, then medical personnel involved in your care must be authorized by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider.
Notify your employer.
Once your health condition has stabilized and as soon as you are able, notify your supervisor in writing of the accident or injury. Although some states allow you to notify your employer verbally, making written notification is preferable. Failing to inform your employer in a timely manner can result in losing your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
File a claim.
A claim for workers’ comp benefits is not a lawsuit against either your employer, an insurance agency or anyone else. It is a request for benefits and it should be filed similarly to any other insurance claim. Your employer should provide you with the correct forms once you notify them of the accident or injury. It is not until you file a claim and the claim is approved by the insurer, that your employer’s obligation to provide benefit is enacted.
As part of the claim filing process, you should collect evidence surrounding the incident, such as possible causes of the accident. Write a detailed account of what happened and include photographs if possible. Collect medical bills, information on hospital visits and doctor’s appointments, proof of lost wages and any other information you deem relevant. If there were any witnesses to the accident, write down their names and contact information.
Submit your claim to the Workers’ Compensation Board, give a copy to your employer and keep a copy of your claim and all supporting documents for your records.
Follow your medical provider’s instruction so you can return to work as soon as you are able to do so.
If you are required to be present at any hearings, you must attend to them. It is a good idea to have the representation of a workers’ compensation attorney during the process of filing a claim.
Once the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program makes a determination on your case and you disagree with the outcome, you may request a review from the Branch of Hearings and Review. At this point, you may need to present additional evidence to support your claim. You can also request for the case to be reconsidered by submitting a request for reconsideration to the District Office which issued the decision.
About Shana Tibi:
freelance author and co founder of First Page Advantage, lives in Sarasota, Florida. She enjoys making lunches for her children, working with her husband, and reality singing show competitions. You can find Shana on LinkedIn.