What should I do if I’m injured at work?

What should I do if I’m injured at work?

It’s not uncommon for someone who experiences a Vermont work injury to be unsure of what to do after that injury occurs.  Maybe it was a pretty small injury, and you don’t want to bother your supervisor or HR person by reporting something you expect will resolve on its own.  Maybe your company has a “report everything” policy but coworkers or managers discourage each other from reporting work injuries.  Or maybe you just don’t know who to report your injury to.  The answer to such uncertainty, however, is always the same.

As soon as you’ve suffered a Vermont work injury, there are three things it is important to do right away, regardless of how minor you think your injury might be:

(1)  Report the work injury to your employer a.s.a.p.  Failing to immediately report a work injury is a very common basis for insurance companies to deny workers’ compensation claims.  If your injury happens on a Thursday or Friday, and you don’t report it until Monday, the insurance company will claim it happened over the weekend.  Therefore, step number one if you’re injured at work is to tell your employer.

If the company you work for has an employment policy  instructing employees to report an injury to their supervisor or a particular HR person, do it as soon as you can and make sure they document it and give you a copy.  Likewise, if you’re working with someone else, tell that coworker you think you hurt yourself and ask if they saw what happened.  Write down that coworker’s name, and if possible, have them write out a brief statement of what they saw. If its a small business with few employees, simply tell your boss.  You don’t need to go around telling everyone that you got hurt, but it is extremely important that you report your work injury to a superior and that you ask them to fill out an incident report.

(2) Seek medical treatment for your work injury.  After you’ve reported your injury to a superior (or before you do so if immediate medical attention is required), go to a medical provider for treatment of your work injury, even if it is relatively minor.  If the injury requires going to the emergency room, be sure to tell the nurses and doctors that your injury happened at work.  If you have a primary care physician, a physical therapist or chiropractor you like to use, you should feel free to see that provider instead, but again, be sure to explain how your injury happened and that it happened at work.

As with delays in reporting the work injury, delays in seeking medical treatment are very often relied upon to deny Vermont workers’ compensation claims.  If more than a day or two passes, the insurance carrier will speculate that something else caused your injury.  If something is bothering you and you think your work caused it, go see your doctor and tell them why you think it’s from work.  Minor injuries can be easy to ignore but can quickly turn into painful problems.  The sooner you see a medical provider for your work injury, the sooner he or she can help you recover from that injury.  In addition, obtaining treatment will make it much tougher for the insurance carrier to dispute that your injury happened at work.

(3) Provide your employer with any note removing you or restricting you from work.  If your medical provider takes you out of work for any period of time, and/or imposes restrictions on the type of work you can do, make sure your employer receives a copy of that note.  Without a written note removing you from work, it will be difficult to obtain TTD benefits for that period of time.  Likewise, unless your employer is made of aware of your restrictions, such as no lifting, bending, etc., you will be at risk of worsening your injury when you return.

Finally, after you’ve reported your Vermont work injury, sought medical treatment, and provided the note to your employer, it never hurts to call Dickson Law Office for advice.  Every lawyer provides free consultations.  Most are happy to answer the initial questions you may have about your workers’ compensation claim.  In addition, hiring an attorney can help to ensure that you get each and every workers’ compensation benefit you’re entitled to.