The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that around three worker’s compensation claims are filed for every 100 full-time employees. This translates into over 2.5 million nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries in a year.
If you were recently injured at work, then filing a worker’s comp claim is what’s next for you. Read this guide so you’ll know what to expect. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to protect yourself throughout this process.
What is Worker’s Compensation?
Worker’s compensation laws in the US began protecting worker’s rights in 1902. Every US state had its own set of regulations to protect its workers by 1949.
Worker’s compensation includes the state laws that guarantee workers hurt at their jobs will receive payment to pay for their medical fees. The worker’s compensation system was created to help injured employees avoid legal action against their employer to recover these fees.
In most states, all companies must carry worker’s compensation insurance to pay for these injured employees. In the US, companies can’t operate until they secure a workers’ compensation plan.
Every US state has its own individual worker’s compensation laws. Some states have different regulations for self-employed companies. You can find more info here on the worker’s comp responsibilities for these self-employed entities.
How to File a Worker’s Comp Claim
Even though every US state has a unique set of worker’s comp laws, the claim filing process usually contains these basic steps:
Report Your Injury
Be sure you report your injury to your employer. You can notify them either in writing or in person. Review your employee policies to confirm whether your employer has any specific procedures in place for reporting injuries.
Schedule a Doctor’s Appointment
Schedule a doctor’s appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible after your accident. This medical exam will help diagnose your injury and identify the treatment you need.
Be sure to advise your doctor to write down the details they consider necessary to demonstrate that your injury was caused by your workplace accident. These details are also helpful in the event you develop delayed onset injuries further down the road.
Collect Notifications From Your Employer’s Insurance Provider
Once you’ve reported your injury, your employer sends you a document called a First Report of Illness or Injury. They will also let their insurance provider know they received your letter. Your employer might also send you a brochure outlining your worker’s rights.
If you’re eligible for benefits, you will receive payments within 21 days after you reported your injury. These payments will be sent every two weeks.
Resolve Your Dispute Instead of Filing for Workers Comp
If you don’t receive any payment or notification from your employer’s insurance provider, let your employer know. If you disagree with your employer’s offer for benefits, try to work out a compromise with them first.
Contact a Workers Comp Lawyer
If your efforts to negotiate your disagreement fails, then your next task is to file a formal worker’s comp claim. At this point, you should consider hiring a lawyer to help you work through the legal process. Worker’s comp attorneys are also called personal injury attorneys or accident lawyers.
Worker’s comp attorneys represent hurt victims who want to demonstrate that they were hurt while on the job. A worker’s comp lawyer can help a victim negotiate terms with their employer’s insurance company. They can also provide guidance to their client on how to navigate the worker’s comp claim process.
File a Worker’s Compensation Claim
Injured workers have either thirty (30) days from their accident or thirty (30) days from their physician’s diagnosis that they suffered a workplace injury and plan to request worker’s compensation.
When an employee submits this notification, their employer may give them the official application they need to formally submit their claim. Employers may submit these claims to their insurance provider on the employee’s behalf.
When you have these forms, make sure to include the following details on your worker’s comp claim form:
- Day, time, and address where the injury occurred
- How the accident happened
- Types of injuries or the damaged areas of your body
- Other witnesses at the accident site
- Any medical treatment received to date.
After your claim is considered, an insurance company representative notifies you to let you know if your claim is approved and for how much.
Worker’s Comp Claim Review Process
Employers have seven (7) days from the time their employee notifies them of a worksite injury to call their insurance carrier. If your employer won’t report your accident, you can also contact their insurance provider yourself. The insurance provider then decides if you are eligible to receive compensation.
When employers deny their employee’s request, employees will have two (2) years to file petitions for benefits with the Employment Assistance Office. Injured employees will also have to file their claim with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC) Clerk’s Office.
Is a Workers Comp Claim Next For You?
Are you ready to file a workers comp claim? If so, you can begin by organizing the records of your worksite accident. These records should begin with your copy of the first notification you sent to your employer notifying them of your injury.
Schedule an exam with your own doctor as soon as you can. Keep them updated on the status of your claim. Ask them for their input on any treatment plans that you receive from your employer’s insurance company medical staff.
Keep detailed records of any doctor’s exams. This information may be helpful in the event you begin to develop delayed onset injuries further down the road.
If you need more employment-related advice, be sure to check our website. We want to help you access the information you need to reach your professional best.