I can’t stress enough the importance of reporting injuries, big and small. Simply telling your boss is not enough. It’s important to complete an accident report. It does not have to be a formal document provided to you by your employer. Something as basic as a handwritten note signed and dated will be enough to provide later on that an injury occurred on a specific date. Many times, employees have what they think is a minor injury and don’t feel the need to document it. What seems like a minor injury, though, can end up being a much larger issue down the road. In sum, document early and often.
An important action to consider taking after experiencing any sort of injury, or even pain at work, is to see a physician. Not only is it smart from a health standpoint to get any sort of potential medical issue checked out, but it also documents the occurrence of the injury. When it comes to injuries, remember “better safe, than sorry.”
Another important decision to make after an injury is whether to contact an attorney. It’s never too early to reach out to an attorney to discuss what happened and get advice. It may not be necessary to have an attorney get involved formally right away or even to have to meet with an attorney at first. But having the opportunity to run your situation by an experienced legal professional and ask questions, can help you to avoid a lot of issues in the future if the situation ends up lasting longer than expected.
There is no upfront cost to speaking with, or even hiring, an attorney. Attorneys only get paid one of two ways: 1) if they have to go to court and secure benefits for you; 2) If there is a settlement at some point, then 20% is the maximum fee (plus expenses), and it comes out of the settlement. If your attorney is not successful in obtaining benefits for you in court, or if there is no settlement, there is no fee owed.
Lastly, there are a few things that every employee involved in a work-related injury should be on the lookout for. First, be very careful of any documents the insurance company, or their representative, asks you to sign. Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company. Keep a copy of any relevant paperwork, including doctor’s notes. The insurance company may at some point schedule you for what they call an “independent medical evaluation.” This so-called IME is anything but independent. This is someone the insurance company chooses carefully to examine you and to potentially use their report against you in court. You should be aware that the insurance company will likely hire a private investigator to follow you around and videotape you during a workers’ compensation case.
Should you need professional legal advice from our team of attorneys, please call 800-785-5399.