Several people are injured at work every year. Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2019 5,333 workers died from work-related injury. Many more end up with permanent disabilities.
Unfortunately, many people injured at work do not know what to do or the right steps to take when injuries occur.
When you start a new job, you’re given the opportunity to sign up for all sorts of benefits that you wouldn’t be able to afford without getting them through your job.
This can apply to things like medical or dental care, retirement funds, or job-specific perks that allow you to take advantage of what your company uniquely has to offer. Among these benefits is the option to sign up for disability.
What are Disability Benefits?
Disability benefits can be among the most important types of support for individuals with conditions that could make it impossible to work enough to support themselves after they’re injured.
In fact, it can be a difficult situation to be injured, especially if the injury occurs while you’re on the job at work, but it can and does happen. When this happens, certain steps should be taken as soon as possible – and those steps will depend on the severity of your injury and the type of accident.
Below is what you should do immediately you get injured at work and how your disability benefits can help you get your life back on track, or at the very least, comfortable.
Report the Injury
In the aftermath of an accident, report the injury immediately to your supervisor, who will then report it to your company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
The insurance company will probably want a doctor’s note or some sort of documentation as proof of your injury, so it is best to keep any medical records and receipts you acquire while seeking treatment, or have your doctor or the hospital send over this information as soon as possible.
Failure to report an injury can cause loss of workers’ compensation benefits, so it is important to follow up on your claim and remain as diligent as possible in seeking compensation.
Seek Medical Attention
You should see a doctor as soon as you can following your injury – and you must see the same doctor as chosen by your employer or chosen by the insurance company.
This is important because your medical care and the bills associated with it will be paid for and handled by workers’ compensation instead of your regular medical insurance policy.
Your employer will likely want records of this visit, including X-rays and lab work. If possible, take photos at the scene of the accident to document what happened.
Keep a Record of Incurred Expenses
You need to keep records of all your medical expenses in case you are later denied workers’ compensation benefits, so do not assume that your company’s insurance will cover these. Note the date, time, and place of your doctor visits, any treatment received, including therapies, medications you take and how often you take them.
File a Workers Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation claims must be filed with your employer and insurer. You can file immediately following the injury or within two days of when you see a doctor for treatment, whichever is sooner. Failure to timely file a workers’ compensation claim can result in loss of benefits, so you must file as required.
Talk to an Attorney
In addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to talk with job-related injury lawyers as soon as possible.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine:
- what your next steps are,
- if you have a viable case,
- what sort of compensation you should be seeking, and
- assist you in getting the benefits you need to live comfortably, not just what your job or the insurance companies are willing to give you. This is especially important when it comes to benefits related to disability, as they can help you figure out exactly what you need.
Below are a few examples of disability benefits you can pursue with the help of an experienced attorney.
Permanent or Short-Term Disabilities
An assumption that can discourage individuals from seeking disability benefits can be the belief that these are only for those that have suffered permanent disabilities. In reality, there are different types of disability benefits that individuals may be able to utilize.
For example, some individuals may suffer from disabilities that are expected to heal over time, and these individuals may be best served by seeking short-term disability benefits.
Government or Private Insurance
Social Security Disability is the single largest program that is designed for those who have lost the ability to work to support themselves. However, this is not the only potential form of disability benefits that individuals may be able to utilize.
One common example of additional benefits can be from private insurance policies and workers’ compensation. Many of these policies will have some degree of coverage, for instances where a person has become disabled as a result of disease or injury.
The Amount Awarded in Benefits
For individuals who are able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, it is easy to assume that everyone in the program will receive the same amount of compensation for their benefits.
However, the benefits that a person receives from this program will mostly be determined by the average earnings and contributions to Social Security. Due to this reality, there may be substantial differences between the benefits that individuals in the program receive. Because of this, don’t assume what you could receive is based on the results of the people that you know that are in this program.
Whether You Qualify At All
To be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits or private disability benefits, a person will need to have contributed at least the minimum amount to these programs.
Unfortunately, individuals who have not worked recently or who have not paid this part of their taxes may not qualify to apply for these programs without first settling the tax debt or obtaining a waiver.
If you are injured at work, it is important to know your rights and provide documentation of the injury. It is also important to communicate with your employer about any accommodations that may be needed.
To ensure that you are awarded the compensation and granted the benefits you need, it’s best to hire an attorney who specializes in work-related injuries that can ensure you’re given what you need and not just what the insurance companies are willing to pay.
They can also help you navigate the different loopholes and types of benefits that you could be awarded to make sure you’re awarded what’s best for you.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.