Benefits for the Injured Worker: Getting Started
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Using common sense is the best advice when you are injured. After taking appropriate steps to insure your own health and safety and that of coworkers, you should take note of certain facts. This would include noting what conditions caused your injury, witnesses present, date, time and place, as well as the symptoms you are experiencing. Since we tend to forget details, committing the information to paper as soon as possible is prudent. As the days pass, many people find it helpful to note details on a calendar each day.
The law requires that an injured employee provide “notice” to the employer within forty-five (45) days of the accident. However, you must provide notice as soon as possible and you should not wait the entire 45 days. Informing the employer of a work accident as soon as possible is the most prudent course of action. Every day that passes it becomes more difficult to prove that your medical condition was caused by the work accident. For example, if you injure your back at work doing heavy lifting and then wait two weeks to provide notice, questions will be asked about what you lifted at home or away from the work place over the intervening two weeks. You may win the argument over the “notice” requirement but lose your case over the “causal relationship” issue. Always report an accident as soon as possible.
You must report your accident to a management person, not just to a fellow employee. Notice does not have to be in writing, although if it is you should request a copy of the accident report for your records. You should also verify that all information on the form is correct, especially if you are asked to sign it. Notice is just that, simply notice that something occurred. You do not have to provide a detailed medical statement or even confirm what the injury is. In many cases you will not know. However, the general rule is that the more detailed the notice, the better.
In summary, it is wise to provide the following:
- Employee’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth and social security number
- Date, time and place of the injury
- A short statement of the accident and what caused it
- A short statement of the work activities that caused the injury if it is a repetitive injury
- A description of the injury or at least the area of the body where you notice symptoms
When you are injured at work benefits generally fall into one of three categories:
- Medical care
- Temporary total disability
- Compensation for a permanent disability or disfigurement
Depending on the nature of your injury, one or more of these types of benefits may be important to you. Also, there are several other benefits that may apply, such as the right to vocational rehabilitation. Whether you request the payment of any or all of these benefits is entirely up to you. However, you should learn the specifics of these benefits so that you can make an informed decision.
This content is intended to provide general information and guidance only. You should see an attorney and obtain advice if you have questions or concerns regarding workers compensation. Most lawyers will not charge any fee for an initial consultation to review your case. Only by asking questions and obtaining answers will you obtain the rights and benefits to which you are entitled.