Work-related injuries are unfortunate but common occurrences that can disrupt your normal life and impact your finances. Knowing the appropriate steps to take immediately after such an incident can significantly impact the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim. This blog aims to guide you through the crucial steps you should follow after sustaining a work-related injury.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The importance of seeking immediate medical attention after sustaining a work-related injury cannot be overstated. First, prioritizing your health is crucial to prevent any further complications or even potentially life-threatening situations. If you sustained a severe injury, seek emergency room care or arrange ambulance transport if necessary. For less urgent situations, your workplace may have an on-site healthcare provider or a designated medical facility for work-related injuries.
Beyond immediate health considerations, medical attention also provides essential documentation linking your injuries directly to the workplace incident. This connection is vital in any subsequent workers’ compensation claim, as it helps to unequivocally establish the cause and extent of your injuries. Ultimately, this documentation substantially supports your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
Inform Your Healthcare Provider that Your Injury is Connected to Your Employment
Informing your healthcare provider that your injury is work-related ensures that your injury’s cause and circumstances are accurately documented in your medical records, which is essential for a successful workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, clearly stating that your injury occurred at work while performing your job duties helps validate your workers’ compensation claim, reducing the chances of disputes or denials from workers’ compensation insurance. North Carolina requires injured workers to disclose to medical providers that the injury occurred at work when seeking treatment.
Report the Incident to Your Employer
It is vital to report your work-related injury to your employer as soon as possible. Timely reporting is a requirement for North Carolina workers’ compensation claims, and failure to do so promptly (within 30 days) may jeopardize your eligibility for benefits. Ideally, this notification should be in writing, detailing the incident, injuries sustained, and any immediate medical attention sought. A documented report provides an official record, helping to prevent disputes about whether the injury occurred at work, and serves as essential evidence should you need to proceed with a legal claim. If your injuries prevent you from reporting the accident to your employer, have someone provide written notification to your employer for you. Keep a copy of the notification for your records.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Initiating a workers’ compensation claim is a crucial step in ensuring the injured worker receives necessary medical treatment, rehabilitation, financial assistance, and safeguards the injured worker’s legal rights. Timeliness is crucial in this process, as there are deadlines for filing workers’ compensation claims. If these deadlines are missed, you may forfeit your right to claim these benefits.
The process involves notifying the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) about your workplace accident. As the overseeing state agency for the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, the NCIC is responsible for processing and determining the outcomes of workers’ compensation claims. Notification of a workplace injury to the NCIC is done by submitting a Form 18, titled “Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee, Representative, or Dependent.”
Subsequent to a workplace injury, your employer and/or their workers’ compensation insurance company should provide you with a Form 18. The Form 18 should be filled out completely and accurately then submitted to the NCIC following the provided instructions on the form. Should your employer and/or their workers’ compensation insurance company fail to provide you with a Form 18, you can obtain one from the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s website or by using this link.
Follow the Treatment Plan
The primary goal of workers compensation is to ensure access to medical care and rehabilitate the injured worker’s health and facilitate a full recovery. In North Carolina workers’ compensation cases, there are legal obligations for the injured worker to actively participate in their treatment and rehabilitation. Failure to follow the treatment plan could potentially affect the worker’s eligibility for continued compensation and benefits. Should you disagree with the physician’s recommended treatment, you are entitled to a second opinion.
Maintain Certain Documentation
Maintaining thorough and accurate documentation is a critical step following a work-related injury. Start by gathering all relevant medical records, including diagnoses, treatments, prescribed medications, and any future healthcare needs. Equally important are records of your incident report, witness testimonies, and any correspondence with your employer and/or the workers’ compensation insurance company, and the North Carolina Industrial Commission concerning the injury. It’s also beneficial to keep a dated personal journal outlining the accident, your symptoms, pain levels, and the injury’s impact on your daily life. This comprehensive collection of documents establishes a solid foundation to effectively support and pursue your workers’ compensation claim.
Seek Legal Help
In many cases, especially when dealing with significant injuries or disputes with employers or insurance companies, seeking legal assistance can be immensely beneficial. A personal injury lawyer specializing in workers’ compensation claims can guide you through the complex legal process, help protect your rights, and ensure you receive fair compensation. They can help you gather and present necessary evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if it becomes necessary. Every situation is unique, and having an experienced professional by your side can make a big difference in your claim’s success.
Bradford Law Can Help If You’ve Been Injured in a Workplace Accident
Navigating a work-related injury can be challenging, but taking the right steps can significantly improve the outcome of your claim. At Bradford Law, we understand how daunting this can be, which is why our experienced team is here to guide you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation; we’re committed to helping you receive the compensation you deserve and ensuring your rights are protected.