Work-related injuries occur all too often and are not restricted to high-risk work sites, such as heavy construction or underwater demolition sites. In fact, those who work in controlled environments like offices, retail stores, and factories can also suffer injuries ranging from minor strains and bruises to serious accidents capable of causing lasting damage or even death.
According to a recent survey published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-fatal occupational illnesses and injuries affected employees at an average rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time employees. Even at this frequency, many employees remain unsure about their options when injured on the job and how to protect themselves and their families from the consequences. If you, your spouse, or a member of your family has just been sickened or injured while at work, the following tips are designed to help you deal with the aftermath with a minimal amount of stress.
1. Create your own record of events
When any workplace accident or illness occurs, appropriate medical care needs must always be the first consideration. Once immediate medical care needs have been taken care of and the incident properly reported to the employer, the injured party or someone with permission to act for them should attempt to begin documenting the details surrounding the event. This step is best done as soon as possible after the initial event to ensure that relevant information is documented when the details are still fresh in the minds of both the witnesses and the injured party.
When creating your own record of events surrounding an accident or illness related to the workplace, it is important to include as much detailed information as possible. In addition to times, dates, and descriptive details, your report should list the correct contact information for witnesses and any identifying markings for equipment or machinery involved, such as manufacturer name, logo, and licensing or serial number.
If possible, consider using a cell phone to make video or audio recordings of the workplace and witness accounts and to take photographs of any involved machinery or vehicles and the site where the incident occurred.
Once the initial information is gathered, it is important that the injured party or someone assisting them to continue to record details as they occur throughout the recovery period. This type of daily information log should include dated, timed entries about any pertinent documentation received or submitted, records of any associated phone, texts, emails, and information about appointments for medical treatments or ongoing care.
2. Complete all insurance and medical documentation
The injured worker or someone with permission to help them will also need to complete all insurance and medical forms and submit them as quickly as possible. If the injured party belongs to a union, the local union steward can be an important resource for information, as well as the human resources manager or other staff members in charge of assisting those who have been injured or stricken ill in a workplace setting.
3. Consult with an attorney for legal oversight
The injured party should also seek a consultation with a job-site accident attorney to learn about getting legal guidance. Injured workers, especially those who have a long history with their employer, often want to believe that their employer will treat them fairly even without legal representation. Unfortunately, even the most respected employers can act with bias against their employees when seeking to minimize their legal or financial responsibilities after a workplace accident has occurred. Employees who engage the services of a workplace attorney as quickly as possible after an accident are helping to ensure that their accident and recovery period are treated fairly.
If you or someone you love has been injured or made ill while on the job, contacting an attorney is an important step in ensuring that your family's financial and legal needs will be properly addressed.