A whopping two million back injuries occur each year in the United States. Many of those occur at work. If you are injured at work, you could be facing years of pain, rehabilitation, or even long-term disability.
Do you know what steps you should take if you suffer from a spine injury on the job? Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Seek Medical Attention
The first thing you need to do with any kind of injury at work is to get treatment.
You might need to go to the emergency room if your injury is an emergency. Otherwise, you can see your family doctor.
Even if you feel relatively well, it is important to get cleared by your doctor. This is vital for getting workers’ compensation. Also, ask for documentation that outlines what tasks you are able/not able to perform.
Be sure to tell hospital staff or your doctor that this injury occurred at work.
Even after your doctor has checked you, seek medical treatment if you begin to experience new or worsening symptoms such as:
- numb or weak legs
- bowel or bladder incontinence
- nausea or vomiting
It is vital that you follow the instructions provided by a medical team.
Report the Injury to Your Employer
As soon as you possibly can, report your spine injury to your employer. This is necessary even if your symptoms developed gradually.
As soon as you suspect that pain or a back injury was caused by your work, you need to report it. This will help you avoid issues in getting workers’ comp.
Each state has a time frame in which you must notify your employer about any injuries.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The steps for filing a workers’ compensation claim may vary somewhat by state, so be sure to do your research to find out the steps in your state.
Generally speaking, you start by getting a claim form from your employer. Or if they do not provide it, you can download it from your state workers’ compensation board website.
You will fill out, date, and sign the ’employee’ section on this form.
Once you’ve done that, return the form to your employer in person or by certified mail. Your employer will then fill out the “employer” section and forward it to their insurance company.
Ask your employer for a copy of the form for your personal records.
Your employer or its claims administrator will notify you if your claim is accepted or denied. This generally happens within 90 days of the date you gave the claim form to your employer.
Remember, if you fail to file this form within the time frame designated by your state, you could lose your access to benefits.
Avoid Actions That Could Hurt Your Claim
There are several things you might unintentionally do that could hurt your claim.
The first is your use of social media. Posting anything that could be misrepresented to show that your injury isn’t severe could hurt your claim. Be cautious about the perception of any online activity.
You might also damage your chances of success if you seek legal counsel from a lawyer who doesn’t specialize in personal injury and workers’ compensation law.
Also, make sure you don’t try to hide anything about your past medical history. It’s likely to come out and concealing it will hurt your claim.
Keep Meticulous Records
In order to prove that your spine injury is real, you will need to be diligent about keeping records.
Make copies of everything including prescription receipts, related purchases, or specialist visits.
It may also be useful to keep a log of your pain, mobility restrictions, and pain relief medication you took. The more data you have, the better.
Hire a Specialized Lawyer
The best thing you can do when you’ve suffered a workplace injury is to hire a personal injury lawyer.
Sometimes, workers’ compensation claims are denied. In this case, you’d need to file an appeal. The appeal process is complex and can be time-consuming.
A skilled lawyer can help you through the process. You want an expert who deals with workers’ comp claims on your side.
Having a lawyer navigate the process on your behalf can result in your getting much more in compensation than employees who don’t hire a lawyer.
And, more good news: you don’t have to pay anything upfront. Your lawyer will charge a certain percentage of your overall settlement. So it’s in their best interest to get you the highest amount possible.
Know What Reimbursements You Are Entitled To
The amount of money you will get from your claim will depend on your specific situation. The severity of your injury, the level of treatment needed, and how much work you have to miss all play a role in establishing your reimbursement.
Many people know that you can claim pain and suffering as well as lost income. Yet, that’s not all. There are many others you could qualify for.
For example, you might be able to qualify for reimbursement for housekeeping and home maintenance costs, property loss, and even loss of companionship for family members.
Not all of these costs will apply to each scenario. Your personal injury lawyer will help you know what applies to you.
Treat Your Spine Injury Seriously
Thanks for reading! We hope that this article helps you understand what you need to do if you suffer a back or spine injury at work.
Get the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation.