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Legally Speaking

What are My Legal Rights When Injured at Work?

Dec 20, 2017 2:53:34 PM / by Stealey Law & Mediation

When you’re injured at work, the last thing you want to do is be dramatic and create a scene, right? That’s just going to make you look bad in front of your boss and jeopardize your chances of a promotion or getting a raise. WRONG.

If you’re injured at work, you must let your boss know. A full report of the accident needs to be created immediately to ensure that you can receive benefits or medical treatment. Even if you don’t think you’re badly hurt, you must file the report. 

In addition to the report, take photos of any visible injuries after they happen and take photos of the area in which the accident occurred. If you’re unable to do this yourself, ask a trusted coworker. 

Remember, a reputable employer will not make you feel bad for filing a report — it’s designed to protect you both. Read on to learn more about what you should do if you are injured at work.

 

THE MOST COMMON WORKPLACE INJURIES

workers compensation

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the most common workplace injuries are caused by:

  • Falls
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Repetitive motion injuries

Falls are most commonly reported in manual labor jobs, such as construction workers. Some falls don’t cause permanent disability or result in broken bones. However, some falls cause spinal cord injuries or brain injuries.

If an employee was involved in an accident while driving for a work-related task, the accident may be eligible for compensation. Professional drivers, such as taxi drivers, delivery workers emergency responders and truck drivers are most at risk.

Repetitive motion injuries, like carpal tunnel or tendinitis, are the most commonly reported workplace injuries. They occur when workers perform the same movement for an extended time, like auto mechanics.

 

FILING A REPORT

Correctly filing a report will help you prevent issues down the road. Don’t assume you’re okay and forgo the report — you never know how you will feel the next day or even the next week. Injuries can rapidly worsen.

The consequences of not filing a report or not filing it on time can be serious — your claim could be completely denied, meaning that you won’t get any workers’ compensation. It’s possible that your private health insurance will cover costs associated with work-related injuries, but don't take that chance. 

Additionally, your employer may take disciplinary action against you for not filling the report on time, and may even suspend you from work.

When you start a new job, make sure you know if your new employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, and if so, what the procedure is for filing a claim. Also, note that some illnesses are covered under workers’ compensation — these illnesses are called “occupational diseases”. Occupational diseases occur when employees are exposed to known toxins at their work place.

You, sometimes, have more time to file a claim for an occupational disease than you do for a work-related accident. Time limits vary from state to state. Check with a lawyer your trust. 

 

TALK TO YOUR CO-WORKERS

It’s important to talk to your co-workers to see if anybody witnessed the accident. They may be able to help you understand what caused the accident.

If a co-worker has valuable information about the accident, make sure you have his or her contact information. You should also maintain records of anybody involved in the report process.

 

UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS

In West Virginia, not every employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. Some employers are exempt to workers’ compensation insurance, such as churches and temporary employees of the state.

When you file a claim for workers’ compensation, you generally can’t sue your employer, but in limited circumstances, you can. Again, talk to a lawyer. It’s also worth consulting with a lawyer if you’re unsure or if you feel like your claim isn’t being handled well.

If your injury was deliberately caused by your employer, for example, if you were ordered to do a job that had known dangers or safety issues, you may be able to sue. It’s also possible to sue if your workplace injury was caused by a third party. Third parties may include (but are not limited to) other drivers in an accident where you were driving for work, vendors and manufacturers of defective or dangerous equipment or substances..

 

WHAT DOES WORKERS COMPENSATION COVER?

Worker’s compensation won’t necessarily replace 100% of your lost wages. It also won’t compensate you for your suffering. 

When you see a doctor for a work-related injury or occupational disease, you should receive full medical benefits for as long as they are needed. There usually isn’t a monetary limit on the overage you can receive for appointments, care, prescriptions, travel, etc. You are also allowed to select your doctor for your initial visit. You may need a lawyer to advise you of these rights. 

Workers’ compensation will also cover temporary and permanent disability benefits, but there are limits to the amount that can be paid. Temporary disability benefits can be paid for up to two years. If there is a permanent disability, it is categorized as either partial or total.

Permanent partial disabilities mean that there is an impairment that means the employee cannot perform the job tasks to his or her full capacity. Knee injuries, hearing loss and carpal tunnel syndrome are examples or permanent partial disabilities, but back injuries are the most common.

Permanent total disabilities mean that the employee cannot perform his or her job at any level. These disabilities include loss of an appendage or complete loss of vision. 


STEALEY LAW & MEDIATION | PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER IN WEST VIRGINIA 

It’s important that you contact a personal injury lawyer to ensure they protect your rights.

At Stealey Law and Mediation, we thoroughly assess your case, using our expertise to analyze the long-term impact of the injury.

This is a vital step in properly evaluating the full extent of the damage — helping us determine if the initial settlement is fair and adequate. Should we find that the initial settlement offered is not fair, we aggressively pursue damages against the individual or company who caused the harm, or we will refer your to a workers' compensation specialist if we think that's in your best interest. 

At Stealey Law and Mediation, we have the expertise and experience to manage your case. If you think your work-related injury or occupational illness claim is being mishandled, contact us today for a free consultation.

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Topics: Personal Injury

Welcome to "Legally Speaking" where we cover topics ranging from medical malpractice to distracted driving in personal injury cases. Jim was the co-host of a television program called "Legally Speaking" on Network West Virginia as well as a legal analyst for the local TV station and several radio stations. With 38+ years of experience, Jim Stealey provides client representation in a compassionate and dedicated manner. 

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