Navigating The Workers' Compensation Process
Workers' compensation can be a tricky process to get through alone. The general procedure seems straightforward, but any number of complicating factors can turn it into an arduous journey. If you've gotten injured at work, you need to know about certain deadlines and pitfalls if you want to file a successful claim. This is especially important if you've sustained a serious injury, because you may have to deal with deadlines when you least want to.
Medical Attention First and Foremost
Whenever you get injured on the job, medical attention comes first. If the injury required urgent treatment, you should have handled that before anything else, even if the injury did not require true emergency care. You need to address your basic ability to live. Depending on your state, you may have to see a specific doctor rather than your own. However, if you're dealing with an emergency, concentrate first on getting appropriate treatment and keeping records. Then, when you can contact a lawyer, let him or her know what happened. You may still have to see a company doctor later for an official diagnosis for the claim form.
Claims, Forms, and Deadlines
Speaking of claim forms, once you notify your employer that you have been injured, the employer has to give you a claim form. Again, depending on your state, you'll have to let your employer know within a certain amount of time, which could be as short as a few days. If you're not feeling up to working on the claim form, it would be a good idea to speak to a workers compensation attorney to find out about who can fill in the form for you. And if your employer doesn't give you a form, or you don't want to wait, you can usually find copies online. Check your state's workers' compensation office.
Help From the Local Office
Even if your employer gives you the form promptly, find the contact information for that office or a local branch. It would be a good idea to contact the branch to verify that you're following the steps that you need to follow.
Regardless of your contact with the workers' compensation office, you should contact a lawyer too. Workers' compensation claims should request payment for everything associated with your injury, from medical care to lost pay; but, how much you can really ask for depends on your injury and how it really affects your life. A good lawyer can help you draw the line between what you can ask for and what you'd like to ask for.