Do You Know What To Do if You're Injured at Work?

Last Updated: 

December 27, 2023

You do everything possible to stay safe at work—you work diligently to follow all OSHA safety recommendations, including paying attention to your surroundings. Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, accidents can still happen. 

When it comes to responding to accidents in the workplace, there are a few steps to take. This process includes treating any injuries and ensuring you receive compensation for any damages. If you’re unsure what to do after a workplace injury, here’s a look at the steps you should follow.

Key Takeaways on What to Do When Injured at Work

  1. Immediate Reporting Crucial: Report workplace accidents promptly to your employer, complying with legal requirements, and potentially avoiding missed compensation opportunities.
  2. Medical Attention Matters: Seek medical help for even minor injuries; medical records support compensation claims, and delayed diagnosis might hinder your claim.
  3. Document Everything: Thoroughly document the accident scene, injuries, and related expenses, including bills and receipts, for comprehensive support during the claims process.
  4. Witness Collaboration: Gather contact information from witnesses to strengthen your case, aiding in the efficiency of your injury claim.
  5. Timely Workers’ Compensation: File a workers’ compensation claim promptly, ensuring timely processing and addressing potential financial challenges resulting from missed work.
  6. Formal Legal Consultation: While starting the claims process early is beneficial, consulting with a personal injury attorney helps navigate complexities, avoiding pitfalls like accepting inadequate settlements.
  7. Fair Compensation Advocacy: Avoid accepting initial settlements without legal advice; an attorney ensures fair compensation covering both immediate and future expenses related to the workplace accident.

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How to Respond to a Workplace Accident

Knowing how to respond to a workplace accident is something everyone should know.

Report the Accident Immediately

If an accident happens at work that results in injury or death, the first step is reporting the incident to your employer. Under California law, all workplace accidents must be immediately reported. 

If the accident doesn’t result in injuries requiring medical attention, you have 30 days from the incident date to file a report with your employer. Some industries must also report the incident to OSHA, which includes the construction, medical, and factory industries, to name a few examples.

Why should you immediately report a workplace accident? Waiting too long may bar you from seeking financial compensation. Sometimes, there are filing deadlines you need to meet. 

Reporting the incident also helps ensure your employer takes the necessary precautions to prevent a repeat accident. If the situation isn’t remedied, it’s time to contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and report the safety hazard.

Get Medical Attention

Even a minor cut can turn into a more serious injury if left unchecked. While you can probably skip a doctor’s visit for a papercut, other workplace injuries like slips and falls should be treated by a physician.

Some injuries may not exhibit signs or symptoms for a few days, and it’s always best to let a physician at least give you a check-up. If you’re planning on filing a compensation claim, you’ll need medical records to support your case. 

Also, you don’t want to be diagnosed with complications from your injuries after submitting your claim. You cannot refile a compensation claim, which means you may end up stuck paying for some or most of your medical expenses. If the injury is severe, go to the closest emergency room.

Document the Accident and Your Injuries

Even though you can file a workers’ compensation claim without providing evidence, eventually, you’ll need documentation to support your case. This process includes saving all of your medical records and bills relating to workplace injury. If you also experience property damage, save these bills and any receipts of payments you may make.

Along with keeping every scrap of paper relating to your damages, it’s also a good idea to document the accident scene. If possible, take pictures. If you slipped on a wet floor, document the puddle. You’ll also want to photograph your injuries.

Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for any surveillance footage that captured your accident. You may even want to start a journal documenting the experience, along with how the injury is affecting your life. You may be able to file for non-economic damages, and the journal can come in handy.

Talk to any Witnesses

Talking to witnesses doesn’t mean getting their statements, which will be done by your personal injury attorney and personnel associated with your employer’s insurance. Chances are, you’ll be dealing with a worker’s compensation claim, and witnesses can help bolster your case.

Just get their contact information if they witnessed the accident or events leading up to the incident. Yes, your employer will have their contact information, but being able to provide your attorney with the details can help your injury case move forward a little more quickly.

File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Hopefully, this is your first time filing a workers’ compensation claim. Don’t worry; the process is pretty straightforward. Your employer has one business day after the accident to email or give you the form, and you can also download the form from the website.

Ignore any sections in the form that aren’t labelled “employee.” After filling out your section, the form goes to your employer. From there, your employer fills out their section, and then the form is sent to the insurance company. The insurance provider has two weeks to let you know the status of your claim. If the response is late, go ahead and call the insurance company and ask for an update.

Don’t forget to sign and date the workers’ compensation form, since your injury claim will not be processed until you and your employee complete this step. If you haven’t received a denial response within 90 days of the accident, you should consider your claim approved.

Contact an Accident Attorney

There’s nothing wrong with starting the claims process before consulting a personal injury attorney, This can help speed the process up, which is always good news. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be missing work. This means a significant decrease in your earnings. With bills still coming in, you want to get your claim moving as quickly as possible.

What you don’t want to do without talking to an attorney is accept the first settlement offered by the insurance company. Even with all of your supporting evidence, you’re still likely to get a low-ball offer. The amount may sound great now, but what about future expenses relating to the workplace accident? Is the claim enough to cover ongoing medical costs?

Once you accept an offer by the insurance provider, your case is considered closed. This means you can’t go back and file for additional compensation. Your attorney will work to ensure you receive fair compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.

Don’t Deal with a Workplace Injury Alone

You may have a great employer who looks out for every staff member, but this doesn’t apply to the insurance company. 

If you’re injured at work, contact an experienced workplace accident attorney. Your attorney will work to ensure you are fairly compensated for any injuries and property damage resulting from the accident.

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