Accidents are something that we don’t want to even think about, let alone secure ourselves and ask questions just in case. However, for our own and our family’s sake, we should be aware of our rights and everything there is to do when an accident happens. Especially when it comes to accidents at work. If you were injured while doing your job, you will possibly be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It is required for almost all employers to provide their employees with insurance coverage. Every state has laws implemented to help workers with their work-related injuries, no matter if the employer is to blame or not. You can do everything by yourself or get help from the professional compensation lawyer. If you need that help, you can ask around for recommendations or simply search online, e.g. type Las Vegas Worker’s Compensation Lawyer to find the most popular results. So if you happen to be involved in a work accident, here’s what you need to do:
Report the injury
First and the most important thing to do is to report the injury to your employers. Most states have some restrictions as to when you should do it – preferably the same day or a couple of days after. Sometimes, due to your injuries, it may not be possible for you to do it yourself immediately; that’s when you may need outside help. After that, you can file a claim with an industrial court or the workers’ compensation court near you – it’s regarded as a formal notice of the accident.
It’s the right thing to do, even if you don’t suffer from any injuries after the accident; your report can make your employer improve safety measures and that will contribute to the safety of all your coworkers. Plus, if anything happens to you later (sometimes symptoms appear even weeks after an accident), you will be protected.
You should go to the doctor as soon as possible. Even if it’s not an emergency, you ought to simply schedule a visit. You can ask your employer if there is a certain doctor for you to see or choose your own. If you don’t like the opinion of your employer’s doctor, you are entitled to the second opinion of the one you choose yourself.
Know your rights
Workers’ rights and compensation law may vary between different states but some things are universal. The most common for most places are:
- the right to file a claim,
- the right to pursue medical treatment,
- the right to go back to work when released by a doctor,
- the right to disability compensation if you are unable to go back to work, no matter if temporarily or permanently,
- the right to appeal the decision of your employer, an insurance company or a court,
- the right to be represented by a professional lawyer.
Remember that you have the right to act but you can also refuse to act. Sometimes employers try to persuade injured workers to use their own health insurance to cover the medical costs – you don’t have to agree to that. As well as to an incentive, if offered – this is illegal almost everywhere. It’s important to know that you have the right to pursue compensation without any fear of being harassed by your employer. If he makes it difficult for you, he will be penalized.
If your employer provides you with work insurance, you can’t sue him over job-related injuries but you also don’t have to prove that you hurt yourself due to someone else’s negligence; it’s possible to be compensated even if an accident was your fault. Your claim may be declined if, at the moment of the incident, you were intoxicated, under the influence of alcohol or using illegal drugs.
The only exception here is the case of asbestos exposure. If you’ve been exposed to it and you suffer from asbestos-related health problems, you can sue those responsible for your condition.
Usually, work insurance doesn’t cover workers’ commute or injuries due to workplace fighting or misbehaviors.
Know your rights against third parties
Sometimes accidents happen due to the negligence of third parties – not yours nor your employer’s – e.g. designer or manufacturer of a defective tool, device, piece of equipment, or a delivery truck or transport driver. In that case, you have the right to file a claim against that person or the whole entity. However, normally it’s not a compensation claim anymore – you file a civil lawsuit and you do it in a state or federal court. It’s a bit different from a compensation claim; for example, it allows you to prove personal injury damages that typically are not covered by work insurance. The latter normally covers only your lost wages and medical costs, while a civil lawsuit can grant you compensation for pain and suffering too.