No one wants to have an accident at work, but it does happen. However, knowing what to do once a work accident has occurred will help alleviate a lot of problems that would have otherwise arisen.
The most important thing that you should do is contact your employer right away if you are involved in an accident, even if you don’t believe that you were injured as a result of it. It’s important because the amount of time you are provided to report the accident can vary and in order to be covered under workers’ compensation, it must be reported within this time period. The length of this period does vary from state to state, so it’s best to know this information for your state.
If you report an accident and later discover that you were injured as a result of it, make sure to immediately report that development to your employer and if you are seriously injured, head to the emergency room to receive immediate treatment.
Conversely, if you sustained injuries that were not that urgent, it’s still a good idea to visit a doctor at your earliest convenience. Make sure to check with your employer to see which doctor you should see as you may be required to see a specific doctor in order to remain eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In some cases you may also want to get a second opinion. Although you may need to pay for the second visit out of your own pocket, it may make long-term financial sense to do so if you do not believe that the initial assessment was an accurate one.
Be prepared to undergo a drug test following the accident as some employers conduct them as you are not eligible for workers’ compensation if you were intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs at the time of the accident.
Remember to follow up with your employer to ensure that a workers’ compensation claim has been filed on your behalf, which is the company’s responsibility. And it’s always a good idea to obtain a copy for your records as well.
Workers’ compensation benefits are available in every state and provide you with protection against many of the costs related to work-related injuries and loss of income if you are unable to return to work for a period of time. This program does not place blame, so you are usually eligible to receive benefits regardless of whose fault it was.
Note that you do need to be an actual employee with the company to be covered for work accidents. Independent contractors are usually not covered by workers’ compensation. If unsure, don’t be afraid to ask.