Some jobs are more dangerous than others, such as construction, electrical, manufacturing, or restaurant work. However, a workplace accident can happen anywhere, so knowing the steps to take after an accident in the workplace helps to ensure that you are covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. In addition, following the correct protocol for an injury on the job can ensure that, if your claim is denied, you have a stronger claim for an appeal with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC).
You may need to take legal action if your initial claim was denied, or if some of the additional treatment for your recovery is not being covered. If you need representation for a denied worker’s compensation claim or if your workplace injury was caused by gross negligence or safety protocol violations at the job site, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Diefer Law Group at (888) 301-7795 today for a consultation about your case.
What are the Five Steps to Take After an Accident in the Workplace?
The moments after you have been injured on the job can be painful, confusing, and overwhelming. Following the right process, including your employer’s protocols, helps ensure that the company’s worker’s compensation benefit will cover your treatment.
Seek Medical Care Immediately
If the situation is critical, call 911 for treatment. Otherwise, you should immediately go to the hospital or urgent care center. Many workplaces have an emergency procedure that includes this information; your supervisor should be able to direct you where to go for medical care.
It is important to have a doctor diagnose your workplace injury, even if you do not feel hurt that badly. Without a medical diagnosis, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will probably not cover your treatment. The initial doctor you see after a workplace injury will be referred to as your treating physician in the worker’s compensation paperwork, and will make recommendations for after care and can make recommendations that will determine when you can safely go back to work.
Document and Log Everything Related to Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Keep a journal of each step in your workplace accident injury. Take pictures of your injury when it happened and retain a copy of all your medical records. Note which doctors you saw and when and the diagnosis and recovery instructions you were given.
The documentation steps to take after an accident in the workplace include the following:
- Narrative of how the injury happened, including when, where, and what you were doing leading up to it
- Your treatment records for the initial visit and all subsequent doctor visits
- A detailed description of your injuries from the treating physician
- Your description of how the injury impacts your life, including diminished mobility, being unable to do your job completely, or a permanent or semi-permanent disability
- A record of all doctor appoints and any recommended physical therapy appointments your doctor indicates
- All medical bills relating to the injury
- A copy of the incident report your employer filled out after the accident or a copy of the workplace illness report you submitted (how you would report something like the slipped disc in the example above)
- The names of any witnesses to the accident
Your documentation can help if your claim is denied and you hire a worker’s compensation lawyer to help with your appeal. Keeping your documents organized and easily accessible makes it easier to refer to them if needed.
Notify Your Employer of the Workplace Accident
As soon as any pressing medical treatment is completed, report the accident and injury to your employer. Most worker’s compensation policies require the employee to submit an incident report in writing within 30 days of the accident.
In cases of occupational illness or progressive injuries, such as the slipped disc example, carpal tunnel syndrome, or respiratory disease from toxic inhalation, workers have two years from the date of the diagnosis.
File a Worker’s Compensation Claim
Your employer may file the worker’s compensation claim on your behalf, or you may need to fill out the form and file the claim yourself, online. In cases where you need coverage for an occupational illness, you may need to file the claim directly through the board.
Filing a claim can be confusing and challenging and often require supporting documentation to settle the case. An experienced worker’s compensation attorney, like those at Diefer Law Firm, can help you prepare your claim correctly and ensure all the relevant documentation is submitted with the initial claim, and represent you in your hearing, if necessary.
Follow All Aftercare Instructions Given by the Treating Physician
Part of the conditions for an injury being covered by worker’s compensation insurance is that the injured employee must follow all post-injury care recommendations of the treating physician. This includes attending all physical therapy sessions or having surgery. The treating physician may refer you to a specialist; you are also expected to follow up with that doctor.
Understand that California Worker’s Compensation Covers Occupational Illness
Suppose your workplace injury is a repetitive motion injury due to actions. With that situation, or if you have developed an illness or disease due to conditions at your workplace, you may still be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits, under the occupational illness coverage. However, you may need to be evaluated by a physician covered by your company’s worker’s compensation carrier to receive them.
For example, you developed a slipped disc in your back due to repeated lifting of heavy objects. Your personal doctor diagnoses this and indicates the injury happened in the course of your job duties. You may be covered, but you need to alert your employer to the diagnosis and then have the diagnosis confirmed by its worker’s compensation doctor.
Do You Need Help With a Worker’s Compensation Case?
Even if you follow all the steps after an accident in the workplace, you may still have problems having all your medical care covered, or your claim may be denied outright. If this is the case, contact the Diefer Law Group. We are experienced and compassionate workers’ compensation lawyers, and we may be able to help you get resolution for your claim or file a suit on your behalf. Call (888) 301-7795 today for a free case evaluation.