Hurt at Work? Say Something!
I talk every day with people who have hurt themselves at work. Too often, the people I talk to tell me that they didn’t report the injury. Sometimes they haven’t even been to the doctor. I get it: you’re tough and you’re used to gritting your teeth and working through the pain. The thing is, worker’s compensation insurance companies will take advantage of that. It’s really easy for a worker’s compensation carrier to deny a claim made by someone who either didn’t report the claim right away or didn’t quickly see a doctor.
Start a Paper Trail
By reporting the injury, you’re not only kickstarting a worker’s compensation claim, you’re also creating a paper trail of proof that you really were injured. When you tell your manager or safety representative that you were hurt, they should make a note of that fact and tell their worker’s compensation insurance company. Just to be sure that there’s a record of your report, you can follow up with a text or email telling your boss about the injury.
See a Doctor
The most important reason to see a doctor as soon as possible after the injury is of course to get treatment. However, it’s also important to see a doctor because they will keep the paper trail going. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals will take detailed notes about not only the injury itself, but also how it happened. If you explain that you were hurt at work, they’ll make a note of that in your medical record. The opposite is also true: if you say that you don’t know how the injury happened, they’ll make a note of that too. Be aware that the worker’s compensation company will be able to read these notes, and it’s in their interest to read them skeptically. Therefore, whenever you see a new doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you should explain how the injury happened.
Keep Your Work Excuses Updated
If you’ve got a serious work injury, your doctor might restrict you from returning to work. They might also tell you that you can return to work, but that you are not able to do certain kinds of work, like lifting more than a certain number of pounds. It’s extremely important to keep those work restrictions up to date. If you miss work because of your work injury, but you don’t have a doctor’s note that says that you could not work because of the work injury, the worker’s compensation carrier will not pay you benefits for that time. For example, if one note says that you need to be out of work from Monday through Thursday (and you’re not able to return to work yet) you need to get another note on Thursday. Otherwise, you’ll stop getting benefits when you don’t show up for work on Friday.
Keep going to the doctor. If you try to go back to work and it hurts too much, go see a doctor immediately. You’re (probably) not a doctor yourself, so you’re not qualified to say whether you should have more work restrictions or not.
If you’re hurt at work, report it to your manager or safety representative right away. Then, go see a doctor.
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