Decoding Work Comp: First Steps for a Work Injury
People often ask me: “What should I do right after I get hurt at work?” The first 96 hours after an injury are very important to your rights in a worker’s compensation claim. The law requires that you must notify your boss or supervisor, in writing, within four days of being hurt. This requirement is very important, but if for some reason this has not happened don’t panic. You can still do it. There are special circumstances for people that are unable to do this (for example, someone taken to the hospital from the job site) or haven’t done it, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t file the claim. I have heard from many injured workers that their boss or HR department said that since they didn’t notify the company in 4 days, in writing, then the company couldn’t process the claim. This is absolutely not correct.
You must notify a superior at work. This could be the supervisor, HR department or safety manager, but can’t be just a co-employee. Once you have let your employer know that you were hurt at work, your employer is required to give you information about two separate doctors to see that are in different practices. These should not be two doctors working in the same clinic or for the same company.
Once you have this information, you should pick one of their recommended doctors and start your treatment (if you are reading this and have not chosen the doctor call a workers compensation attorney for guidance because this choice is very important). Within reason, don’t worry about your medical bills if you are seeing the physician or clinic that the employer chose, just focus on getting the treatment you need to get better. The employer’s insurance company will generally pay for treatment by the authorized treating physician up to a point, even on a denied case where they have filed a notice of contest.
It is never too early to get a lawyer involved in your work comp case. Some insurance companies may try to get you to admit fault that you shouldn’t or try to circumvent the legal system for a quicker, cheaper resolution. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, contact an attorney as soon as you are hurt. Most lawyers (myself included) will do a free consultation with you over the phone, by email, or in person to tell you what you can expect in your case. If you’d like to talk to someone about your case, you can call me at 303-792-5595 or submit a request for someone from our office to contact you.