If you’re injured on the job, it’s important to know your rights as well as what steps to take. While you may have heard that the only financial restitution you can receive is through workers’ compensation, the fact is that you can sue for damages in certain situations.
To ensure that your rights are fully protected if you are injured at work, take the following actions:
1. Get Prompt Medical Attention
You should get first aid or other needed medical treatment as soon as you can. If your injury is an emergency, you should call 911, or a co-worker should call if you are unable. If the situation is not an emergency, you likely will be seen by a health care provider selected by your employer. In New York, providers who treat non-emergency, on-the-job injuries are authorized by the Workers’ Compensation Board.
If your employer participates in an Alternate Dispute Resolution program or a Preferred Provider Organization, you may have to obtain medical care from a provider specific to your employer’s program. If your employer does participate in a PPO or ADR program, you should have received all the relevant information in writing.
Your medical care should be covered by your employer or by your employer’s insurance company unless one of the parties disputes your claim.
2. Document your Injury with the Medical Provider
As you fill out required paperwork at a doctor’s office or hospital, you should check the box indicating that you were injured at work. Doing so will result in the medical bills being sent to your employer or to the workers’ compensation insurance company and not to you. If you do select your own doctor to treat you, ensure that she is certified to handle workers’ compensation claims.
Stress to the medical provider that your records need to include significant detail about your injury, such as the history and circumstances under which you were injured. Documentation should be included for any body part affected by the injury, since workers’ compensation will not provide treatment for body parts that are not mentioned in your records.
3. Alert your Employer
As soon as possible, you should notify both your immediate supervisor and your employer’s human resources department about your injury and how it happened. If you do not inform your employer in writing within 30 days of the accident that caused your injury, you could lose out on benefits under the workers’ compensation system.
If you are diagnosed with a disease related to your work, you must adhere to certain deadlines related to your workers’ compensation claim. You must notify your employer within two years after you became disabled or within two years of the time that you knew the injury was work-related.
4. File the Right Paperwork
Unless your claim is disputed, either your employer or your employer’s insurer pays for medical care related to an on-the-job injury or illness. At a medical provider’s office, you may be asked to sign a form indicating that you will be responsible for the medical bills if your workers’ compensation claim is denied or if you don’t pursue a claim.
In addition, you’ll need to complete the appropriate workers’ compensation paperwork and mail it to your nearest Workers’ Compensation Board office. Your attorney can assist you with ensuring that you file the right paperwork at the right time for your claim to be covered.
5. Contact an Attorney
Workers’ compensation cases include varying levels of complexity and can involve multiple points of law. For instance, workers’ compensation is considered “no-fault” insurance, meaning that your on-the-job injuries are covered even if you are at fault. However, your employer or the workers’ compensation insurer may attempt to deny your claim by arguing that you were reckless or intentionally inflicted injuries upon yourself.
In certain circumstances, you may be entitled to financial restitution in addition to workers’ compensation coverage. If you were injured due to a defective product, for example, you may have a basis for a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. Likewise, an injury from a toxic substance could lead to a case against the maker of the substance.
If your employer or a third party engaged in egregious conduct that resulted in your injury, you could consider filing a personal injury action. Workers’ compensation does not cover punitive damages, to which you may be entitled if your employer allowed dangerous conditions to exist at a workplace. In addition, you may be awarded damages for pain and suffering caused by your work-related disability.
If you’re suffering from an injury or illness caused by your job, it’s critical to know your rights to ensure that you receive fair compensation. To speak with an experienced workers compensation attorney, contact the offices of Paul Giannetti, Attorney at Law, at (866) 868-2960.