Falls are an incredibly common workplace injury. You might be surprised to find out that about 600 people die per year from falls at work and of them, over 100 are falls that occur on the same level. You don’t even need to be up high to die from a fall.
When it comes to injuries, over 48,000 workers are injured in a fall badly enough to require days off from work. Falling at work is typically almost 100% preventable. By following workplace safety rules and using common sense, most falls can be prevented.
If you do fall at work, you may consider hiring a workers’ comp attorney, especially if your employer is denying your claim or trying to force you to come back to work. Read on to learn more about falling at work and the rights that you have post-fall.
Common Causes of Falls
If workplaces are following proper safety precautions, the vast majority of falls are preventable. Some of the common causes of falls include:
- Damaged flooring
- Rugs that are not secured
- Wet floors with no warning signs
- Poor lighting
- Holes in the floor
- Cords, cables, or other wires stretched across the floor and not secured or with no warning sign
- Failure to secure ladders or safety harnesses
Not surprisingly, the occupations with the highest percentage of fall-related fatalities are those where workers are high in the air (roofers and tree trimmers). Other occupations at high risk for fall-related fatalities are carpenters and truck drivers.
What to Do After Falling at Work
Regardless of why or how you fell at work, there are steps you should take to ensure that you receive workers’ comp if that is something you are entitled to. Most companies will have processes in place for injuries that happen on the job, so it’s smart to familiarize yourself with them, especially if you work in a dangerous industry.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you think your injury is minor, you should still seek medical attention. In fact, many companies require employees who are hurt on the job to get medical care. Before you go, however, determine if you can see a provider of your choice or if your organization requires you to go to a specific provider.
Document any medical care that you receive, including:
- Copies of your medical records and bills
- Discharge instructions
- Photos of your injury
- Copies of any x-rays, scans, or other imaging
- Statements from your doctor regarding your injuries or care
It’s also important to follow any of the discharge instructions that the doctor gives you, as not doing so may call into question the validity of your workers’ comp claim.
Most states require companies to carry workers’ comp insurance for their employees, so you have the right to seek medical attention that does not cost you anything. Rather, the workers’ comp policy pays for it.
Notify Your Employer
If your injury is severe, seek medical attention first. However, if it is minor, you can notify your supervisor or manager immediately. Regardless, there is typically a state requirement that you notify your employer within a certain amount of time about any injury that happens on the job.
Document the Accident
If you are able, take pictures of any injuries that you sustain if they are visible. You can also use a smartphone to take pictures or videos of the area where you fell. This is especially important if there are hazards, such as things blocking the path, a wet floor with no warning signs, or other dangerous conditions that contributed to your fall.
Take close-up pictures of whatever it is that caused the fall and then take a wider-angle picture of the entire scene. This is a good way to put the location and accident in context if there are any questions down the road, especially if your workers’ comp claim is denied.
File Your Workers’ Comp Claim
After you notify your employer, you’ll then need to file your workers’ comp claim. Each state has its own policies regarding workers’ comp claims. You must follow the guidelines and file within the appropriate amount of time or else you may risk forfeiting any workers’ comp rights that you have.
For example, in Colorado, workers must notify their employers within four days of the accident or injury and the employer must notify the workers’ comp insurance carrier within 10 days of the injury.
What Are Your Rights?
While your rights as an employee injured on the job vary from state to state, your basic rights include:
- The right to have your medical expenses paid for (both current expenses and future expenses, as long as they are related to the workplace injury)
- The right to return to your job once you are released by your doctor
- The right to disability compensation if you are not able to return to work temporarily or permanently
- The right to appeal any decision regarding your claim
- The right to be represented by an attorney during the entire process
It’s always wise to consult an attorney when you have a workers’ comp case, but it’s even more important when your claim has been denied.
A workers’ comp attorney can help you appeal the denial and negotiate with your employer and the insurance company on your behalf. If you can’t reach an agreement, they can also represent you at a workers’ comp hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
If your claim is denied, if you are encouraged by anyone at your employer not to report the accident, or if they try to give you an incentive to not report, you should seek legal counsel immediately. They will take over negotiation with your employer and the insurance company and answer any questions you may have.
Protecting Your Rights After Falling at Work
Falling at work can result in serious injuries that can be life-threatening. If you have experienced a fall while on the job, make sure your rights to workers’ comp are recognized by following any rules your employer has about reporting accidents and following proper state laws regarding workers’ comp as well.
If you have been denied or feel otherwise intimidated by the process, consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney. The attorneys at Sweet Law can help. Our lawyers specialize in workers’ comp cases and will provide a free case consultation.
Contact us today.