When an injury happens, your attention naturally turns to the task of getting better. It’s your primary concern, with financial considerations taking a back seat. However, when you are injured at work, you can’t let the money matters drift too far from your mind. After all, you want to get the best settlement possible.
A workplace injury can represent a traumatic event. Depending on the severity, an incident can change everything for you. It can threaten your livelihood or even your life.
For that reason, it’s no surprise that health remains your key concern in the immediate aftermath. Financial matters and the potential damage to your long-term career often take a backseat to recovering from your injuries. It’s important to follow the necessary procedures to make sure your rights are secured.
Think of it this way: your employer will be moving to protect themselves. You should do the same. There may be deadlines or other legal details that you have to keep in mind, even while you struggle to overcome your injury.
For that reason, you have to take the proper steps in the wake of an accident to protect your rights. You may be entitled to funds to help you pay for your recovery and to keep you afloat while waiting to get back to work. Don’t make your situation worse by not following the proper steps after a workplace injury occurs.
Here are some tips you can follow to ensure your financial situation following a workplace injury:
Consult HR Immediately
Some injury-causing incidents are massive accidents which immediately bring the attention of the higher-ups. Others are more subtle. A sprained wrist. A broken finger or a minor back injury.
For these less severe injuries, there’s a tendency to suck up the pain. You want to avoid making a fuss. However, that can be a long-term mistake.
An injury might seem small at the moment, but it can develop into a serious problem later on. What you suspected was a bruise might turn out to be a broken bone. Or a small cut might become infected.
However, unless your report the injury, you might lose your ability to receive workers’ compensation or other support. It might become difficult to prove the event happened at work. This fact makes it imperative to inform your supervisor or HR any time an injury occurs. Your HR department will have processes in place to document the injury and will have policies in place dealing with workers’ compensation. This will start the process.
Don’t just shake off an injury and try and get back to work. As soon as something happens, report it to the proper department. Make sure your supervisor or the HR department begins a paper trail.
Know Your Rights
As a worker, you are protected by a host of legal rights when it comes to workplace injuries. However, you have to take the necessary steps to enforce them. You can’t count on your employer to keep you informed – in the case of an injury; the company will be looking out for itself.
For that reason, you need to make the necessary effort to learn about the privileges and protections you enjoy as a worker. Luckily, there are many resources available to learn about your rights as an injured employee.
Here, the Internet becomes your friend. There are various online resources to document your protections as a worker. It may take some research, though. Different states have different regulations, so make sure to find the information that best fits your particular situation.
Contact the Proper Authorities
One place to check is with the appropriate regulatory body. The government – including state, federal, and local officials – have organizations set up to watch out for workers. You can search online or call the appropriate authorities for more information.
You’ll also want to file correct workers’ comp forms that apply in your case. Again, these can be located online, or by checking with the proper state regulator.
Get Advice if Things Get Contentious
Companies always talk about teamwork. But there are limitations to this concept. It’s easy to remain on the same team when things are going well. However, when things go bad, everyone starts to look out for their own interests.
That usually happens in the case of an injury. The company will take steps to protect itself. Corporate officials will give you papers they want to be signed, or start contacting you with lawyers. Things could get confusing and overwhelming. This is usually the time to bring in your own advisors.
You can get advice from a number of sources. If you belong to a union, you can contact your rep. They will be able to bring you up to speed on your rights.
Or contact a lawyer. This may seem like an aggressive step, but you have to look out for your interests. Companies have lawyers on their side. If things start to get contentious, you might need your own legal counsel.
See a Doctor
You want to establish a paper trail after an accident. That way, you can prove the extent of the injury and avoid any confusion as to its cause. That’s why you let your boss and HR know what happened. Those company protocols get the paperwork going.
Another major step in the paper trail: medical documentation. Make sure to consult a doctor regarding your injury. Getting medical attention builds a further case for your injury, information that will help you later on.
However, contacting a doctor isn’t just an important step for ensuring your legal rights. It also serves your long-term health as well. Don’t forget: your main goal from this process is to get healthy again. You want the injury treated so that you can heal.
After all, the financial considerations that follow a workplace injury are a means to an end. You just want to get things back to normal. You want to repair the damage and restore your normal routine, returning to work and resuming the everyday life you enjoyed before the accident.
That’s why it’s important to take the proper steps after a workplace injury occurs. You want to secure your legal rights, so you can have the resources you need to get better and to get back to work.