Contribution from a legal writer based on personal injury claims law & practice in Australia and generally.
Compensation for injuries resulting from an accident at work claim are not processed like standard personal injury claims unless an employer or their insurance company acts in bad faith. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that can establish negligence on the part of the employer, which becomes a separate issue from the actual workers compensation claim. This legal situation can easily occur when employers are lax in complying with state rules and regulations that result in injury to their employees. A typical workplace injury claim process is generally the same, as federal law requires to each state to maintain a workers compensation board that oversees work accident compensation claims. This system is in place to allow employees access to immediate financial and medical coverage relief after an accident at work claim while protecting compliant employers from a standard and often very costly personal injury lawsuit. However, the system is not automatic and often claims are contested by both the employer and the insurance company, sometimes injured workers fail to report their initial injury, so an injured worker should know what to do personally following a workplace injury.
Report the Accident Immediately
Depending on the material case facts, sometimes it is imperative for the injured worker to seek medical attention first. This may not necessarily be the case when injuries are not life-threatening and can be first reported to the employer. It is the responsibility of the employer to file work accident compensation claims, but many employers are reluctant to complete this process immediately. Some employers will put an injured worker on light duty when they can reassign them to work responsibilities that the injury does not preclude the worker from performing. Remember that this option is not always a positive for the injured worker, even when their earnings are not interrupted.
Seek Medical Evaluation
Even when an employer is attempting to divert a claim, it is important to still see a medical professional for an injury evaluation. Many medical tests can identify internal problems that are not necessarily noticeable at first. Many injuries actually occur at work and do not manifest until later, sometimes days later. Go to the emergency room if necessary, as this documentation can serve as solid evidence of the time of the injury occurrence and that you actually responded reasonably. Never wait an injury out to see if it will get better.
Follow All Medical Treatment Regimens and Meet All Appointments
This step can be vital to establishing a valid claim even when your employer does not want to grant an injury leave. This could actually be considered bad faith by the employer, as many employers choose to investigate a work injury and file a “near miss” report while continuing to let the employee work. Personal injury lawyers and compensation lawyers alike understand this tactic by the employer, possibly at the suggestion of their workers compensation injury claims insurer. This situation can also enhance your claim if bad faith is apparent, as injured workers should be focused on rehabilitation of the injury and not assisting the employer in avoiding a workers compensation claim.
Consult with Personal Injury Lawyers or Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
It is always a good decision to at least consult with a legal professional following being injured at work. Your workers compensation claim could be much more valuable than you realize. In addition, many workplace injuries do not manifest until well after the fact, such as back injuries, neck injuries, or respiratory problems. And, many times the injury is not realized until much later. This means that the personal injury statute of limitations could well become a significant factor when trying to collect damages for an injury that occurred long ago or with a prior employer.
Workers accident compensation claims can be very complicated and often contested strongly by insurance companies as well as employers. Negotiation tactic of both respondent parties can make a major difference in the value of your claim and ruling by the workers compensation board. Always call an attorney who understands workplace law and has a solid track record of positive results for their injured clients.