It doesn’t matter if your job requires you to be constantly on the move or mostly sedentary — you never know when you’ll get hurt at work. Because a workplace injury isn’t an everyday occurrence, though, you might be unsure as to what you’re supposed to do once you do find yourself in this precarious position.
Fortunately, you won’t be the first person who has had to navigate this sort of an issue, and there are tried-and-true steps to dealing with a workplace injury — here they are:
1. Report the Injury Right Away
Don’t delay in letting your boss know what’s happened. Tell them about your injury as soon as possible. Although you can do so verbally, it’s essential to give your supervisor a written notice that you’ve been injured as well. That way, if you have to make a worker’s compensation claim later, you have something on the record that says you got hurt while on the job.
Of course, some work-related injuries don’t happen in a moment. Instead, they affect you over time after doing manual labor, repetitive tasks, etc. Occupational injuries like these can be reported within two years of a diagnosis in most cases.
2. Seek Medical Attention
This seems to go without saying, but some employees might shy away from receiving the care they need after an injury. Obviously, this is bad for your health, and ignoring an injury can lead to worse problems down the line.
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s likely that your employer will cover your healthcare expenses if they’re at fault for the situation. In other words, you can get treatment for your injury for free, so speak with human resources to see what your options are when you need medical attention.
In the case that your employer won’t pay your medical bills upfront, you’ll still want a record of your diagnosis and treatment. A retroactive reimbursement for your healthcare expenditure could be in the cards if you have proof you were hurt and that it happened while you were working.
3. File a Claim
Perhaps your injury has been extensive enough to take you out of work for an extended period. If so, you’ll have to file a workers’ compensation claim to receive healthcare compensation, as well as a percentage of your pay until you recover. It differs by location but in general, you have 21 days to file the paperwork.
After that, your employer can submit a counterclaim or a labor market survey that proves you’re physically able to work in other fields, thus negating the fact you’re unable to work. They might also provide you with a temporary job of which you are physically capable until your doctors give you the green light to work again, but it might be hard to spur this type of compromise if you don’t file your claim.
4. Prepare Your Defense, If Necessary
Some employers might challenge your right to workers’ compensation. If this is the case when you get injured, be sure you have evidence to share that proves you are, indeed, unable to work. This is also why it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible after you’re hurt and to file a written notice of your injury. This will help a judge to see your timeline unfolded the way you say it did.
Tough cases might require an even tougher defense, so you could consider hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to aid you. They can help push your claim through the court system, so you get a ruling more quickly, too.
Whether or not you go this route, it’s vital to show respect for the legal system. If you’re told to appear in court to defend your case or hear the results, be there.
5. Take Heed of the Doctor’s Orders and Get Well Soon
Regardless of whether or not your claim is accepted, the most critical step to take when you get hurt on the job is to give your body time to heal. Your doctor will provide you with a treatment plan to help you feel better — follow it without cutting any corners. As previously mentioned, ignoring an injury can cause you harm, but so can a hastened healing process. Give yourself time to get back on your feet.
Once you’re ready, you should head back to work and resume your day-to-day life. Your boss will probably want to start your first day with a meeting to see where you’re at physically and mentally. Together, you can decide if any adjustments need to be made to your workspace or your to-dos, should your injury leave you with lingering physical effects.
It might take a bit of a mental effort to get yourself back to work after you’ve gotten hurt there, especially if your injury was a debilitating one. But taking the above five steps will help you to restore your health, which will build you up to be the best version of yourself for your first day back on the job.