State laws require nearly every employer to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage. That means that if you are injured at work, you’ll likely be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
But there are a few things you must do to protect your legal rights. Let’s take a closer look at these three important steps.
1. Seek Medical Care
You should seek medical care immediately if your injury or illness requires it.
If you’re a federal employee, under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), you may choose any qualified doctor to be your treating doctor, although there are some restrictions for the use of chiropractors.
If you aren’t a federal employee, then state law will apply. Typically, you’ll be referred to a doctor who is selected and paid for by your company for the first 30 days. After that, you’ll be able to choose your own treating physician. Bear in mind that the company’s doctor has an incentive to minimize the seriousness of your injury or to identify it as a pre-existing condition, which could have a significant impact on your benefits.
If you aren’t satisfied with the doctor chosen by your employer, you might want to select your own doctor for a second opinion. This might be covered by workers’ compensation, but even if it isn’t, it may still be covered by your health insurance. In either event, a second opinion is often a worthwhile expense as you need to protect your rights to potential benefits.
2. Report Your Injury or Illness
Inform your employer of the accident immediately by notifying your supervisor, in writing if possible. It is important to file an incident report even if you weren’t injured at the outset as you might experience delayed symptoms.
Once you report your injury to your employer, your employer is required to initiate a workers’ compensation claim with its insurance company. You will be asked to complete a claim form. You may want to consult with an attorney before you complete your claim form. You should make a copy of the claim form for your records, then return the original to your employer using the certified mail, return receipt requested, service. You’re entitled to a copy of the claim filed by your employer; keep this copy for your records as well. The insurance company generally has 14 days to send you a status letter about your claim.
3. Consult a Lawyer
A workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate the process and provide peace of mind that you have someone in your corner as you obtain the benefits you might be entitled to receive.
Not every case requires the help of a lawyer, but some situations are complicated. If this is your first workers’ compensation claim, you might find it reassuring to have a qualified attorney help you recover whatever funds you’re entitled to and guide you through the claims process. Hunter & Everage is here to help, with experienced lawyers in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.