Anyone in the workforce—especially those who work in dangerous or industrial settings—should be well-versed in workers’ rights. An important piece of the workers’ rights puzzle is workers’ compensation. Many people fail to look into their workers’ compensation rights and benefits prior to becoming injured. Filing for compensation after an injury involves a lot of work, and many workers aren’t aware of how the process works. Here’s a quick guide on what you need to know about workers’ compensation.
Ask your employer to provide information
Your employer should have information about their workers’ compensation coverage readily available. Having access to this information is important in the event you do suffer a workplace injury. Acquiring this information after an injury may be more difficult and confusing, so thoroughly examine the policies in advance so that you’re better prepared should an accident happen.
Report every injury
Report every injury you suffer at work, no matter how minor it may seem. For example, if you hurt your back while lifting something heavy and the pain subsides after a few hours, inform your boss regardless. If in the next week or so your back gets worse, your employer can point to the fact you never submitted a injury report and thus claim your backache may be from something outside of work. They therefore won’t have to cover your care. To protect yourself, tell your manager in writing about every injury you suffer in case it becomes more serious later.
Reject any false or suspicious claims
If your employer discourages you or other employees from filing injury reports or requesting workers’ compensation, be sure to stand your ground. Some employers may attempt to deter you by claiming you aren’t eligible for compensation if the injury is your fault—however, this isn’t true in most cases. Workers’ compensation insurance is no-fault, meaning as long as you weren’t excessively negligent, you are qualified for compensation. Excessive negligence includes but is not limited to injuries occurring while you’re intoxicated, under the influence, or being overly careless or distracted.
Know your options
If you do get injured on the job due to negligence on the company’s part, you may be able to sue. If you decide to do this, companies will often offer a settlement. Depending on the injury, you may want to consult a lawyer to make sure you don’t get less than you deserve from an out-of-court settlement and to help guide you in your choice of lump sum or structured settlements. If you have questions after an injury, always consult a lawyer instead of going to your company, as they may not have your best interests at heart during a lawsuit.
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