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I Got Injured at Work – What Do I Do Now?
Employers in every state are required to provide their employees with a reasonably safe and healthy work environment, but sometimes they fail to do this, and employees are injured as a result. Occasionally, employees may still get injured even when efforts have been made to make the workplace safe. In this article we’re going to explore the rights workers have when they get injured on the job and the steps they should take after a workplace accident.
The first thing you should do after an injury is to seek medical attention. If you require a visit to a doctor or to the hospital on the day of the injury, your employer should cover the travel expenses.
After that, you need to tell your supervisor. Employers usually have specific rules that you need to follow in case of injuries. Failure to notify your employer in due time may lead to the loss of your right to workers’ compensation. It is also important to make a clear record of what happened and include the names of any witnesses.
Finally, you should file a workers’ compensation claim. The form should be provided to you by your employer after notifying them of your injury. If your employer claims that they do not have workers’ compensation insurance, you should contact an attorney immediately.
► What Are My Rights and How Do I Protect Them?
Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state, as well as the rights afforded to an injured employee and the legal procedures that ensure those rights, but there are a few that are common across states:
• You have the right to file a claim for your injury or illness in workers compensation court or the state industrial court.
• You have the right to seek medical treatment.
• If your physician approves, you have the right to return to your job.
• You have the right to appeal decisions made by your employer, their insurance company, or the workers’ compensation court.
• You have the right to legal representation throughout the process.
Regardless of state, the law ensures that you can pursue a workers’ compensation claim without fear of reprisal from your employer. Any attempt an employer might make to stop you from exercising your rights will be met with severe penalties.
► My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Most employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance. There are a few exceptions, though, such as agricultural employees, domestic employees, and independent contractors.
If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, it’s likely that your state has a fund out of which they will pay for your workers’ compensation benefits. If your employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance but doesn’t, you may be able to sue them for negligence.
► I Am Not Happy with How My Claim Is Resolved
If you are a federal employee and are covered by FECA, you may request an oral hearing or a review of the written record from the Branch of Hearings and Review. A reconsideration of the decision may also be requested from the District Office that issued the decision.
You may also request a review by the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB), however, no additional evidence may be presented. You may not file through the state or federal system and once ECAB has made a final ruling, there are no further options to have the decision overturned.
If your employer disputes your claim, you may request a hearing in front of the Workers’ Compensation board, and if you lose, you may appeal to present your case before a Workers’ Compensation Administrative Law Judge. If you lose again, you might be able to take it to court in the judicial system.
If you are not a federal employee and are not covered by FECA, state law will apply. Most states’ workers’ compensation laws provide a similar appeals process as above.
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