Regardless of precautions, accidents will happen. It’s important, however, to know how to properly react to an incident or injury that takes place at work so that you can protect your legal rights. You may not be able to prevent an accident, however, you can prepare for one by knowing how to respond.
If you’ve recently experienced a workplace accident, there are several steps that you need to take right away. Here’s what you have to do.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The first thing you should do if you or another person just had a workplace accident is to identify if there is a medical emergency. Immediate assessment of the accident will help you prevent the most serious complications.
You should determine the context and the type of injury before everything else. Have a colleague or a staff member with professional first aid training evaluate the injury before taking any decision. Health takes priority over any legal implications! Go to a doctor or a hospital immediately, even if you feel fine initially. More often than not, hidden or delayed signs may occur later and when it’s already too late for proper medical care.
If, after a workplace accident, you require immediate medical attention, you can go to the nearest emergency room or hospital for care. Otherwise, you must go to a medical professional that is in your workplace’s network of the provider. Ask your manager or employer, which medical professionals are part of the organization’s workers compensation plan. After you’ve been consulted, you have the right to request a second or third opinion, including an opinion from a doctor outside of the network if you consider the doctors are ignoring or mistreating you.
Report the Accident to Your Supervisor
Report the workplace accident and injury to the company’s employers as soon as possible. Most states gave a law that requires injured workers to report workplace accidents within 30 days. If you are too late or fail to report your accident, you may be banned from recovering financially through the workers’ compensation system.
Find a supervisor or a manager and clarify what happened right away. Make sure you receive an official accident report that describes the accident in detail and your injuries. If your supervisor does not eliminate the root of the accident as soon as possible, as an employee, you are expected to report the safety violation to OSHA to build a safer workplace.
Who you report your accident to depends on:
- Where you were working when you had it
- Your “employer status” – this means whether you’re self-employed, an employee, or a worker.
Document Your Accident and Injuries
Workplace injuries are an unfortunate fact of life for those who work. For the same reason, there are laws that demand documentation for injuries or illnesses if they occur. Therefore, before you leave the scene of the accident, it’s important to gather as much evidence as possible.
Regardless of whether you’re injured or ill due to a safety incident, the National Safety Council Recommends following these steps to document the incident:
- Visit the place of the accident as soon as possible
- Ensure the area is safe to enter
- Make sure if you’re receiving the appropriate medical care
- Identify witnesses
- Take photos of the scene (make sure to include date and time)
- Preserve and collect any evidence
- Ask your employer for any video surveillance footage
- Determine & establish what happened
- Interview team members involved in the accident
- Don’t place blame on anyone who was involved, even if someone confesses to causing the accident
- Investigate every element included in your workplace’s incident forms such as:
- Site manager’s directives
File a Workers ‘Compensation Claim
Once you’ve reported and documented your workplace injury, your employer should provide any necessary form to fill out. Normally, your employer must submit these forms to its insurance agency and the state workers’ compensation agency. All information required by the insurance company should be provided: employers must also provide statements and any other relevant supporting documentation, including available medical notes, therapy and medical treatment statements, and return-to-work statements.
After you’ve completed your claim, the insurance provider will conduct an investigation before consenting or rejecting your claim. The insurance company must tell you what it decided, normally within two to four weeks. If your claim isn’t denied by the deadline, it will automatically be considered eligible.
Consult With a Workplace Accident Attorney
As a result of a workplace injury, you are required to adjust your lifestyle, which can be quite demanding. What’s more, you have to deal with the massive medical costs that threaten to throw your life into confusion.
A workplace accident attorney will be your advocate as you negotiate with the insurer and your employer. These negotiations can be tough, especially if you have little to no legal experience. Let’s just say that employers will be trying to dodge as much blame as possible, whereas insurance companies will try to pay as little as possible to protect their profit margins.
Having an experienced attorney by your side will know what procedures to follow, critical paper filling procedures, as well as legal matters such as the statute of limitations. Therefore, with their support, you can ensure you are deprived of your entitled compensation due to any paperwork mistakes or technicalities.
You will need someone to understand and defend your legal rights after the injury suffered on the job and a workplace injury attorney can help.