The short answer is: as soon as possible.
Reporting an injury to your employer is the first essential step to take after you are hurt. Waiting too long to report an injury could end up costing you more than you think.
While laws vary from state to state, ideally, you should provide your employer written notice of a workplace injury within 30 days. After 30 days you may be compromising your right to receive the worker’s comp benefits, including lost wages, that you deserve.
Once you’ve notified your employer, he is required to complete an “Employer’s Report of Occupational Injury or Illness” form. Review the form, ensure it is accurate, and request a copy for your records.
If you require medical attention for your injury, seek it as soon as possible. Getting timely and adequate medical treatment is essential not only to your recovery but to maximize your workers’ compensation benefits and compensation.
To receive benefits and compensation, you must file the necessary forms to open your worker’s compensation claim. Submitting a claim with your employer is your responsibility. If at any point you are denied a form or the opportunity to seek medical treatment, it is best to consult with an experienced worker’s comp attorney.
How Do I Know if I Qualify for Worker’s Comp?
Every claim is unique, and your basis of eligibility is dependent on the details of your specific situation. There are, however, a few basic guidelines the insurance companies look for when reviewing a claim:
- Whether you are an employee of the insured company
- Whether your injury or illness is a result of a work-related duty
- Whether your injury was reported to your employer within a reasonable amount of time
- Whether your claim was filed according to your State’s deadlines
If you are uncertain about your state’s deadlines, have been denied by the insurance carrier or your employer; contacting an attorney may be your best option to determine your next step.
What Benefits Could I be Eligible for?
Worker’s compensation is intended to protect you (the employee) when an accident or work-related illness occurs. Familiarizing yourself with workers’ compensation benefits can help you determine if your employer’s insurance carrier is holding out:
- Medical Treatment– Medical care intended to help alleviate or recover your workplace injury
- Disability Benefits- Temporary or permanent depending on the severity of your injury
- Supplemental job displacement benefits –A voucher intended to fund the training of a new skill if you are unable to return to the same job duties you performed prior to your injury
- Death Benefits – Monetary compensation for your spouse or dependents in the event of death due to work-related injury or illness
The benefits listed above are not guaranteed in all situations Often insurance carriers deny claims unjustly, and many go without contesting or consulting with an attorney. Don’t let this be you.
Is My Employer Obligated to Have Worker’s Comp Coverage?
Most companies are legally required to maintain coverage if they staff one or more employees. Heavy penalties and fines often deter companies from being uninsured. There may be a few exceptions depending on the industry and the terms in which you were hired. For example, if you were hired as an independent contractor or consultant, you may not be considered an employee of the company and therefore are ineligible for coverage.
Nonetheless, each state has its own prerequisites regarding worker’s compensation coverage and should be verified with your state Department of Labor.
Are Work Injuries Avoidable?
Although there are safety programs and measures a company can take to create a safe environment for its employees, accidents can still happen.
If you feel that your workplace is unsafe, it is best to report any safety hazards immediately to your employer or to the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
How Soon Should I Hire a Worker’s Comp Attorney?
Bottom line: the minute you feel like something is not right; it probably isn’t. But why wait until then?
Suffering from a work injury and worrying about lost wages while trying to pay your bills can be mentally debilitating. Contacting a worker’s comp attorney as soon as possible can help ease your worry and ensure you receive all the benefits and lost wages you deserve.