What to Do Immediately after Sustaining an Injury at Work: A Guide

injury at work

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly three million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in the private sector in 2020. 

While employers put protocols in place to keep employees safe, the reality is that accidents do happen. If you experience an injury at work, it’s important to know how to respond. 

After an injury at work, you could receive compensation to help you heal and cover your time away, but the actions you take immediately afterward matter. Today, we’re sharing the next steps that could make all the difference in your case.

1. Report the Injury

As soon as possible after your injury, you’ll need to report the details of the event to your supervisor. If you take care of this step right away, then the occurrence will still be fresh in your mind. Plus, you can be sure you’re within your state’s statute of limitations, which requires prompt reporting after a workplace accident. 

If an injury or illness develops gradually over time, then report it to your supervisor as soon as you believe that it might be linked to an event at work. 

At that time, write or type a letter explaining everything that happened. While some states will allow you to give a verbal version of events, it’s always best to create a written record. Relying on word-of-mouth reporting alone could result in some details being misconstrued or taken out of context. 

If you do decide to communicate verbally, then be sure to capture the following details in writing after your meeting:

  • The date and time it occurred
  • The names and positions of the people you spoke to
  • All responses you received

When the meeting is over, it’s still smart to follow up with a written letter to all parties, re-affirming the points that you made.  

2. File a Worker’s Compensation Claim

In California, workers’ compensation claims are handled by the California Department of Industrial Relations. These benefits are in place to help injured workers receive the medical treatment they need to fully recover. You can also use them to partially replace lost wages. 

California requires all injured employees to report their injury within 30 days. Otherwise, you could lose your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. You can follow the steps on the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) website to initiate the claims process. 

3. Seek Emergency Treatment

If your injury results in an emergency, then it’s critical to seek medical care right away. Depending on your condition, call 911 or visit the closest emergency room. 

When you arrive, be sure to let the medical staff know that you sustained the injury while on the job. This way, they can add that information to your record. At this time, you can also contact your employer to update them and receive any necessary further instructions. 

4. Visit Your Doctor

Once you file a workers’ compensation claim, your next step is to visit your doctor for a thorough examination. This is necessary even if you do not have any obvious aches or pains. There are many different types of ailments, including soft-tissue injuries, that are not immediately apparent.

Notes from your doctor’s visit could help prove the extent of your injuries. They also serve as evidence that you took the incident seriously and took all the proper precautions. If your injury requires you to attend physical therapy or any type of rehabilitation, those records can further solidify your case.

One point to note? Some employers may require you to visit a doctor of their choosing, due to their workers’ compensation rules. Ask if this is the case before you make your appointment. 

Even if you’re allowed to see your own doctor, California law maintains that your employer must pay for your medical care if you’re hurt on the job. This is the case even if you don’t miss any time from work due to your injury. 

5. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

You could try to navigate a personal injury claim on your own. However, the process can be overwhelming and time-consuming. You should feel free to spend your time and energy healing, not filling out paperwork and crafting your case. 

This is why it pays to partner with a qualified and experienced California personal injury attorney.

This legal expert will know exactly what benefits you’re entitled to receive. They’ll also be well-versed in the laws of your state’s workers’ compensation program. For instance, did you know that under California law, you are not required to be a legal resident of the United States to receive access to most benefits? 

These details aren’t widely known, and you could be tempted to settle for less if you’re unaware of your rights. 

If you’re on the fence about hiring a lawyer, remember that your employer is already one step ahead. Not only do they have their own legal team by their side, but their insurance company does, too. It’s in your best interest to do the same. 

Experience an Injury at Work? Call Our Team

You give your time, energy, and dedication to your job. While you don’t expect to experience an injury at work, it’s smart to know the right steps to take if you do get hurt. 

By following the plan above, you can help maximize your workers’ compensation benefits and build a strong case in your favor. Yet, we know how complicated the process might sound. You deserve the freedom to rest and recoup while you’re at home, so let us handle all of the headaches. 

Our team of personal injury lawyers is here to help you get back to work quickly, confidently, and safely. Contact us today for a free consultation and let’s get started. 

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