If you get injured on the job, one of the most important things you should do is file a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible. In doing so, you can not only have your injuries documented, but also gain financial compensation while you recover from injuries that may keep you from working for weeks or even longer. However, while most people have heard of workers’ compensation, few know very much about the legal side of filing these claims. If you have been injured on the job and need to know what is involved in filing for workers’ compensation, here are some important details you will want to keep in mind.
Not all Injuries are Covered
One of the biggest mistakes many people make regarding workers’ compensation is believing it covers any type of injury sustained on the job. However, this is not the case. For example, if you are injured while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your claim will be denied. Also, if you are injured while acting in a manner that violates stated company policies, your claim will also be denied.
Claims Must be Filed Quickly
While most states have different time limits regarding how long an injured employee has to file a workers’ compensation claim, most attorneys agree filing a claim as quickly as possible is the best option. In most situations, states allow up to 30 days to file a claim, but since the time limits vary, be sure to ask your employer about the deadlines. To get the best results, it is best to report your injuries as soon as they occur to your supervisor, then begin the process of filing your claim.
Workers’ Compensation and Lawsuits
If you think you will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim as well as slap your employer with a personal injury lawsuit, think again. Most of the time, once you file a workers’ compensation claim, you are giving up your right to sue your employer for your injuries. However there are exceptions to this rule that can come into play under certain circumstances. For example, if your employer created a hazardous situation on the job that led to your injuries, your attorney may be able to prove negligence, which would then open up the employer to a lawsuit as well as workers’ compensation.
In many instances when employees file claims for workers’ compensation, employers attempt to retaliate against them in various ways. These can include firing, demotions, or creating a hostile work environment. In many situations, employers will try to pressure employees into choosing not to file a claim, and may threaten retaliation if the claim is filed. If this happens, it is best to contact an attorney immediately to make sure your legal rights will be protected during the process.
Stay Off Social Media
If you file a workers’ compensation claim and are being represented by an attorney, you will likely be told to stay off social media until your case plays out. In almost all cases, the employer’s insurance company will be monitoring your social media sites to see if they can find anything to be used against you, such as incriminating pictures that might let them dispute the severity of your injuries. Along with this, some employers hire private investigators to conduct surveillance on injured workers who are off from work, also in an attempt to gain incriminating pictures or videos to use against them.
Even if you don’t think your injuries are serious or life-threatening, always allow yourself to be examined by a doctor immediately after being injured on the job. By doing so, you will have medical documentation of your injuries, which can be crucial to having your claim approved, as well as if you are allowed to pursue a lawsuit against your employer. Since many types of injuries such as whiplash, head injuries, and back injuries may not display their severity for several days, being examined by a doctor immediately after your accident can lay the groundwork for your claim if you are indeed seriously injured.
By keeping these tips in mind, you will have a much greater understanding of the workers’ compensation process.