Accidents are bound to happen, even in a safe workplace with cautious employees. If you do get hurt on the job, your first thought might be about what should you do if you are injured at work. Even though your employer must carry worker’s compensation insurance, it is easy to make costly mistakes when lodging your claim. Fortunately, taking a few steps can help assure your successful compensation claim.
What Steps Should I Take After I Am Injured at Work?
- Report your injury – be sure that your incident is documented.
- Seek medical care – even if you believe your injuries are minor, see your doctor.
- Complete your paperwork.
- Keep detailed records.
- Defer to your doctors’ recommendations.
How Long Do I Have to File a Worker’s Compensation Claim?
Ideally, you should file a complaint as soon as possible. However, in Western Australia, you should make your claim for compensation within 12 months of your accident.
What Are My Rights?
You must know your rights should you have an accident at work. Because laws vary from state to state, it is always a good idea to double-check with state-specific information. However, the work, health, and safety laws (WHS Laws) are clear on several issues across the board.
- If you have an accident at work, you are entitled to first aid, worker’s compensation, rehabilitation
- Worker’s compensation covers employees injured at work or work-related functions or required work travel
- Full time, part-time, seasonal, casual, commissioned, pieceworkers, and working directors are entitled to workers’ compensation
- Worker’s compensation is a no-fault policy. In most cases, compensation is given despite not following company policy. Each situation will be judged to determine if serious misconduct occurred
- You have the right to see your doctor in a private setting
- You may fill out your paperwork
- You can refuse to sign paperwork that you feel pressured to sign
- Your doctor (not your employer) determines when you are fit to return to work
- You can reject lump sum offerings
- You have the right to legal representation throughout your claims process
What Does Worker’s Compensation Cover?
Even though specifics may vary with state, Australian worker’s comp will cover:
- Physical injuries
- Mental health injuries
- Diseases contracted during employment
- Aggravating a previous injury because of employment
- Recurrence of an earlier injury or illness because of employment
What Doctor Should I See?
If you are injured at work, you must get medical attention from your GP. If you are in a situation where you require emergency care, see your GP as soon as it is practical.
There are cases where injury victims are pushed to see doctors that work for the company. You should avoid this scenario. Your physician knows you, has your records and will make your recovery the top priority.
When you see your doctor, communicate clearly and succinctly how your injury occurred. Be as direct as possible and avoid rambling on as some information might harm your case.
Remember that you have a right to privacy. If a representative from your company asks if they can sit in on medical appointments, you should refuse to allow this practice.
Who Keeps Track of My Paperwork?
Members of the agency in charge of worker’s compensation usually keep records. However, be sure that you keep your records. If you can, take pictures of the accident site and your injuries. Write every detail down as they may be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful worker’s compensation.
Make a note of conversations with your doctor, therapists, or other members of your recovery team. Include names, dates, and times so the information is accessible for you to locate if necessary.
Your records are vital and do not allow anyone to dictate what you should write. If you have a problem with an overly pushy boss or supervisor, be sure to speak with your union representative. No one either inside or outside of your company has the right to approach you to change your statement, influence your medical team, or limit your benefits.
Do Your Research
While you want to believe that your company will deal fairly with you, there are times when employers or insurance companies will try to limit your benefits or the amount of time you collect benefits.
Sometimes this is done by suggesting injured employees sign off on a lump sum payment. While a large settlement looks good on paper, it may keep you from access to medical care down the road when your injury flares up. If you have doubts about what you should do, contact your union representative or a legal professional for advice.
Work injuries happen, but you deserve fair compensation for mishaps at work that result in your bodily harm. If you have taken the appropriate steps to resolve your claim from an injury at work and have no satisfaction, you should consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer. Allow a professional to stand up for your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.