Were You Injured On the Job? Here Are Some Tips.

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Were You Injured On the Job? Here Are Some Tips.

By Steven Jensen
October 9, 2023

Thousands of hard working people are injured on the job each day, leading many to file a workers’ compensation claim. When heavy equipment is involved, these workplace accidents can be particularly catastrophic. The aftermath can lead to significant medical treatment, extensive medical bills, and potentially lengthy recovery periods. Some injuries are so severe that the injured workers might never return to their previous job roles. Given the complexity of workers’ compensation laws and the challenges that can arise with insurance companies, it’s crucial to know the necessary steps to ensure your rights and protections are maintained after a job injury.

A person with a bandaged arm writing on a paper.

1. Obtain Useful Information About the Workplace Accident

Never assume that a proper investigation will be completed after a workplace injury. Oftentimes, companies do very little investigation and reporting. Companies rely heavily upon governmental agencies, such as OSHA, to document the accident. Unfortunately, the government’s resources are limited and investigations fall short. Consequently, after a workplace injury claim, you will want to carefully document all conversations you have with your employer or any other company. Avoid phone calls, if possible. Written correspondence, such as letters, emails, or texts, is preferable. Take written statements from any and all witnesses that you are aware of.

Some states, such as Utah, permit you to record a conversation between you and another person without giving notice to the other person. Some valuable information can be recorded in these conversations and later used to your advantage. People tend to be more honest just after the accident. It’s funny how facts change when attorneys and company presidents have gotten involved.

Do everything you can to document the scene of the workplace accident. Take photographs, video, and measurements of the scene. Rely upon family members to help with this. It is common for the guilty party to quickly change the scene to cover up the wrongdoing. It is imperative that you take all steps to document the scene to preserve the evidence.

2. Report the Workplace Accident to Workers Compensation

Your state will likely require your employer to carry workers compensation insurance. This insurance covers any accident that happens while you are “on the clock” and in the course and scope of your employment. This is true regardless of who caused the accident or how badly you are injured. As soon as possible, you need to report the accident to your human resources department and fill out a claim form. Your HR rep can then report it to the work comp carrier. If you have not received a call from the work comp case worker within three days of reporting it to your HR department, follow up with your HR manager to ensure that the accident was reported.

Do not assume that because you reported it to HR that your claim has been opened. Once you have qualified for work comp benefits, work comp will cover your medical expenses and wage replacement (2/3 of your lost wages). Unfortunately, workers compensation benefits will not include compensation for general damages, such as pain and suffering.

Keep in mind that if you are an independent contractor, you may still qualify for work comp benefits as a “statutory employee.” You may be termed a statutory employee and qualify for work comp benefits if your work is under the direction and control of another contractor. If you believe that you may qualify as a statutory employee, then most state laws provide a labor commission or other administrative body that decides your status.

3. Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Immediately following any workplace accident, it’s paramount to prioritize your health by seeking medical attention. Even if you feel that your injuries are insignificant, there are numerous conditions that might not present symptoms immediately. For instance, concussions, internal bleeding, and certain fractures can have delayed symptoms. Early medical care not only safeguards your health but can also be crucial when you’re filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Keep all documents, from medical reports to bills, as they can be essential in the claims process later. This medical documentation provides concrete evidence of the severity and timing of your work injuries. Always ensure that you retain copies of all medical reports, treatment plans, prescriptions, and any related receipts or bills. This thorough documentation can be invaluable during legal processes.

4. Stay Updated on Company Policies and Rights

Your company might have its policies regarding workplace injuries. Familiarize yourself with these and understand your rights as an injured employee. Many companies have a set protocol for how to handle such incidents, and being well-versed in these guidelines ensures you don’t miss out on any vital steps or benefits. Plus, know your rights as an employee. This can be crucial in ensuring you get the necessary medical treatment, time for recovery, and any disability benefits you might be entitled to.

Unfortunately, some workers face pressure from their employers. This pressure can range from subtle discouragements against filing a workers’ compensation claim to overt threats of job termination or retaliation. Understand that state workers’ compensation laws protect injured employees against such coercion and harassment. It’s illegal for an employer to intimidate or retaliate against an employee for filing a claim or for seeking the benefits they are entitled to. If you feel you’re being pressured or threatened, document all interactions and consider seeking legal representation to safeguard your rights. Remember, your well-being is paramount, and no employer should ever jeopardize that.

5. Determine Whether a Third-Party Is At Fault For The Workplace Accident

Depending on the facts of the accident, you may recover additional money from a third-party. This is true even if you are receiving work comp benefits. Do not overlook this possibility as it could mean a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Consider the following case as an example: Bob was working as a utility lineman in rural Utah. He and his crew were installing utility lines inside of a 5 foot trench. ABC Excavation dug the trench in a sloppy, dangerous manner. Soon after Bob and his crew entered the trench, it collapsed on Bob, severely fracturing his pelvis.

In this example, Bob would want to first report the accident to his employer. He would then receive work comp benefits since he was on the job when he was injured. Next, he would bring a third-party claim against ABC Excavation for digging a faulty trench. Therefore, Bob could recover additional money from ABC Excavation for all of his damages.

6. Do Not Accept Quick Settlement Offers

In the aftermath of an accident, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies or even your employer to present you with a quick settlement offer. While this might seem like a convenient way to wrap things up and move forward, these initial offers might not truly reflect the full extent of your damages, both current and future. Medical complications can arise later, and treatments can end up being more prolonged and expensive than initially anticipated.

Accepting a hasty settlement might also preclude you from seeking further compensation down the line, even if new complications related to the accident arise. Before agreeing, always consult with a workers’ compensation attorney or personal injury lawyer to ensure you’re getting a fair deal. This brings us to our next point.

7. Consult with a Workplace Accident Lawyer

Navigating the intricacies of workers’ comp laws is no simple task, making it essential to seek the expertise of a specialized attorney. Workers’ compensation laws can be labyrinthine, varying from one place to another. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can gain clarity on your rights and entitlements, ensuring that complex legal jargon doesn’t hinder your understanding.

A crucial aspect of having an attorney lies in the accurate evaluation of your claim. Not every work-related injury is straightforward, and determining the full extent of compensation you’re entitled to can be a challenge. This is where a seasoned lawyer can be invaluable, ensuring you’re not short-changed and advocating for your rightful compensation. Plus, if the need arises to confront insurance companies, these professionals can negotiate or even represent you in court, leveling the playing field against entities looking to minimize their payouts.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Beyond the tangible legal benefits, having a personal injury attorney in Utah provides peace of mind. With a law firm’s support, the daunting paperwork, looming deadlines, and intricate processes become manageable, allowing you to center your energy on recovery. At Parker & McConkie, our dedicated team is here to offer guidance and representation every step of the way. Schedule a free consultation today!

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