Unfortunately, on-the-job injuries occur all the time. Knowing what to do immediately following and from there forward is critical, in terms of getting the relief you need, with as few problems as possible. Because all workers and federal employees are protected by workers’ laws (at either the state or federal level,) any accidents occurring from work performance, cumulative injury and occupationally related diseases legally must be handled through the claims process--meaning they can not be grounds for a law suit. This is true in all 50 states.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim has its benefits for the worker. It means immediate financial and medical benefits once eligibility is established. In some cases, a claim results in lost wage compensation and permanent disability. There are no provisions for recovering punitive damages, though, and specific limitations are mandated on a state level. Under limited circumstances, you’re entitled to file a lawsuit. One is if you can prove that your employer deliberately set out to harm you. This excludes carelessness. Another is (with the exception of Texas,) if your employer has insufficient or no workers’ comp insurance.
When You Become Injured at Work
First, make sure you are OK, then write down any pertinent details, including names of anyone who witnessed the incident. Tell your supervisor, both verbally, and in succinct written form. You’ll need to go to the doctor right away, being very careful to include how you were hurt and that it’s a job-related injury. Next, make sure your employer’s insurance company has been alerted. The only way to prove this is to receive an Industrial Commission Form 19. It’s highly recommended that an attorney explain this form before you ever file. Everything rides on Form 19 being perfectly rendered, as even the smallest entry error could prove disastrous.
All claimants must undergo testing to determine if they were under the influence of alcohol or any prescription medication not legally prescribed for them. In many cases, this may not seem fair--especially when an injury obviously was the fault of someone or something else, but even so, the presence of any illegally ingested substances will either nullify your claim or at least give the adjuster room to significantly reduce your claim benefits. So, even if you rather innocently took a swig of your wife’s prescription cough medicine over the weekend--because you justifiably needed it--don’t let this keep you from proceeding with your claim process, but know that it could prevent or limit your eligibility.
Protect Your Claim
Know that full, authentic relay of your injury details to the doctor is essential. Not that you would outright lie about the severity of your injury, but avoid exaggeration of pain and any resulting limitations. Accurately articulate information about what hurts, when it hurts, what makes it worsen and improve, and the way it hurts (Ie. stabbing, throbbing, a dull ache, etc.) Make sure that you follow all medical directives deemed necessary for your specific condition, like Chiropractic or Physical Therapy, to show your full commitment to get better.
For more information about workers compensation insurance and policies call Kipper Insurance Agency (760) 471-2200!