What to do if you are hurt on the job
Picture scenario 1:
You are working in a warehouse and you slip on grease that was on the floor. You lose your balance, fall and land awkwardly on your right side. A co-worker saw you fall and comes over laughing at your cartoonish collapse.
He asks "Are you ok?"
What is your response?
Most people would answer "Yeah, I'm okay," even if they are not.
Picture scenario 2:
It is 30 minutes from the end of your shift and you are unloading a shipment. You bend down to pick up a box and as you start to pick it up, you realize it is much heavier than you originally thought. You strain a little harder to get it up and as you do, you feel a "pop" and immediate pain in your back.
What would you do?
Most people would finish their shift and go home to rest thinking that they will be back at work the next day.
Why might you respond this way?
Because no one wants to get hurt at work. If you do get hurt at work, you don't want to believe it. If you do accept that you got hurt, you may try to minimize it and work through it. The problem is that you do this to your own detriment.
'Notice' is an important word in the Workers' Compensation world. The longer you wait to notify your employer of your injury, the more likely it is that they will fight your claim.
When brought before the Workers' Compensation Court, the Employer in 'Scenario 1′ would say, "Yes, a co-worker saw the claimant fall, but when the co-worker asked if he was ok, he said 'Yeah, I'm okay.'"
In a similar proceeding, the Employer in 'Scenario 2′ might say, "The claimant finished her shift that day and didn't say anything about hurting her back to anyone before leaving." This implies that you hurt yourself somewhere else.
So what should you do if you're hurt at work?
Let's take 'Scenario 1′. First, be honest. Tell your co-worker that you are not ok. Then tell your supervisor what happened and ask to fill out an incident report. Even if you are not hurt, you should still report the incident as you may not feel the effects of the fall until later. If you are hurt, seek medical treatment from a provider of your choosing, such as a local hospital emergency room, as soon as you can and tell them that you got hurt at work. Because your visit is work-related, the Workers' Compensation Insurer is obligated to pay for it.
In 'Scenario 2′, you should report the incident to your supervisor and ask to fill out an incident report before leaving for the day. You should then get medical treatment as soon as you can. Even if you feel like you are not seriously hurt, seek medical treatment. Let a medical professional tell you that you are ok rather than playing doctor yourself.
By following this procedure, there is 'Notice' of the injury on the date of the injury and medical treatment promptly after the incident. This gives your Workers' Compensation claim a much better chance of being successful by eliminating some of the possible defenses for the employer and the insurance company right from the start.