Your actions in the hours and days immediately following your work injury can play a huge part in how much money your case is worth in settlement and about the quality of medical care you get.
This may seem unfair, especially if your employer is not cooperating or does not know what to do, or even if you don’t know or don’t get clear guidance. But the two or three days after your accident will set the tone for how your case plays out.
As I discuss in this video, you have two important tasks in the minutes and hours after you get hurt at work. First, you must report your injury to a supervisor or HR manager. This is called giving proper notice of injury to your employer. You can read more about how to give proper notice to your employer here.
Secondly, and equally important, you must seek medical care as soon as you can after your injury. If your employer has a posted panel of physicians available, choose one of those doctors and go. If there is no posted panel and your employer does not know what to do, go to the emergency room or even your family doctor – it very important that you seek care quickly.
If you do not seek medical care within the first few days after your work injury, your employer and their insurance company are more likely to deny your claim. They may say that your injury really wasn’t that bad and that you only decided to file a claim because you are after money. They may acknowledge that you have an injury but they may claim that you really hurt yourself at home or someplace else other than your job site.
When you attend that first doctor’s visit make sure to tell the doctor that you are there because of a work injury, and make a list of every body part that hurts – even if it seems that your injury is very minor or only a bruise.
Often, a pain that starts out as a minor annoyance ends up being a major medical problem once the shock of getting hurt and your adrenaline rush wears off. You are not a doctor and you should not assume that a minor pain really is not important.
It is certainly normal to focus on what hurts you the most. For example, if you fall off a ladder and hurt your lower back, that pain in your knee or elbow may not seem significant to you right away. Don’t ignore those secondary injuries. If you fail to include a body part in that first doctor visit and later on you have trouble with that body part, the insurance company may very well deny your claim. It is better to report even minor discomfort than to assume that that slight pain doesn’t mean anything.
If you have any questions about what to do following a work injury, please pick up your phone and call me, or send me an email. Your communications with me are totally confidential and you can avoid problems by taking proper action at the beginning of your case.