Ever imagined yourself being seriously injured in the workplace? As an employee, it is important that you know what to do when you sustain a work-related injury or illness. This is because as an injured employee, your responsibility goes beyond just seeing a doctor and getting treatment.
Any injury or illness sustained on the job entitles you to workers compensation benefits, which include payments for your medical treatment and lost wages, among others. However, filing this claim is not as easy as it seems. Before you even claim your benefits, you need to report your injury and lodge a claim in accordance with the procedures in your state.
If this is your first time making a workers compensation claim, take note of the following steps you need to take:
Report your work-related injury to your employer
Although rules regarding workers compensation claims vary from state to state, the first step is always to notify your employer of your injury or occupational illness. After getting injured in the workplace and seeing a doctor to get immediate treatment, it should be your priority to inform your employer about what happened to you. Make sure you do this right away because the longer you wait, the more doubtful your employer or insurer may be of your claim. Letting your employer know about your injury will also allow you to process your claim early, resulting in you receiving your workers compensation benefits early. Take note that the deadline for informing an employer about your injuries is usually on the 30th day of the injury, although some employers require as little as 24-hour notice when it comes to reporting work-related accidents and injuries. If possible, do not wait for many days before you get moving as this may only result in the denial of your claim. If you are unable to inform your employer about the accident due to the serious nature of your condition, make sure you tap someone else to do it on your behalf. Make sure that you also present a written letter to your employer, as opposed to simply notifying them verbally. Insurance companies usually request this written letter when a dispute arises due to the employer’s refusal to make liability payments to their employees.
Bring your claim
After reporting your injury in writing, the next step would be to formally lodge a workers compensation claim. Usually, injured employees provide their employees with all the forms they need to fill out before they can lodge a claim. Make sure that your employer takes responsibility in submitting the completed forms to its insurer and the workers compensation agency in your area. While rules may vary from state to state, in most cases, the injured employee is not allowed to personally submit the claim application forms to the workers compensation office unless he has been denied benefits by his employer and wants to petition the decision. Once these forms have reached both organizations, you can say you have formally started your workers compensation claim.
When filing a claim, take note of the deadlines set by your state when it comes to applying for a workers compensation claim. Every state has its own time frame within which employees can file a claim, as well as rules on how to file workers compensation claims. Even if one state allows up to three years to file such claims, some states only allow up to just a few months to a year so make sure that you lodge your claim as soon as you acknowledge you are eligible to do so.
What happens next?
Once your workers compensation claim has been forwarded to the workers compensation agency, the insurer of your employer will begin looking into your claim. During this process, the company may ask you a lot of questions relevant to the accident that caused your injuries and may require you to submit documents that are pertinent to your case, including medical records, the written notification letter you submitted to your employer, police reports, and many more. Make sure you have all the relevant documents ready so the insurance company may not have any reason to deny your claim.
While employers usually cooperate amicably when an employee files a workers compensation claim, there are instances where they refuse to do so. If the insurance company denies your claim and refuses to release provisional liability payments within a week of your injury, tap a workers compensation lawyer like Turner Freeman Lawyers to help you make an appeal. This process can get a bit too tricky so make sure your lawyer is experienced enough to represent you in your case.