Even when every workplace precaution is taken, injuries and accidents can still occur.
Especially in workplaces where physical labor takes place, accidents are an unfortunate occupational hazard. Even if you don’t think an injury on the job could happen to you, it’s best to understand your legal rights and to know what steps to take should an accident occur.
If you work in Naples and are injured on the job, here’s what you need to know about protecting your rights and what actions to take next.
Report your accident to the appropriate personnel.
Florida laws require employers to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. In order to have your injury covered by workers’ comp, however, you must report your injury to your employer within 30 days of the incident. Regardless of whether you know immediately if you are injured as a result of your accident, you should report your accident as soon as it occurs. You can return to your report later (within the 30-day timeframe) to provide documentation of the injury.
Even if you determine that you were not injured in the incident, by reporting the accident, you could inspire your employer to implement new safety measures or make changes to the workplace to prevent future accidents or injuries similar to what you experienced.
To report your accident, you’ll need to complete a claim form. Distributed by either your employer or the Florida Workers’ Compensation Board, the form will typically ask for:
- How the accident occurred
- Parties involved
- Date, time, and location of the accident
- Nature of the injury (if applicable), including every body part affected
- Details on medical treatment
Once you’ve submitted the form to your employer and made a copy for your own records, it’s important to stay diligent and aware of your claim’s status. Keep track of all documents you fill out and receive during this timeframe and keep a record of how your injury affects your daily work.
Make notes of everyone involved in your claim, the dates and details of your discussions, keep receipts for out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident, and retain copies of all medical reports and pay stubs/checks/timesheets from both before and after the accident. Staying organized will help to ensure you stay on top of the process and will better prepare you to fight for your legal rights should the need arise.
Understand your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage.
While Florida laws state that employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits, these laws also protect employers from lawsuits when their employees are injured on the job. Workers’ comp removes the burden of proof for the employee, meaning they do not have to provide evidence that the employer’s negligence caused the accident or injury.
Instead, employees can be compensated even if the accident was caused by their own actions. Some situations are exempt from this, however, such as incidents that are caused by an employee’s use of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.
Visit a doctor or hospital.
As mentioned before, you are not required to have proof of an injury when you make your initial accident report. However, the best practice dictates that you see a doctor or visit a hospital as soon as possible following your workplace accident.
This way, you can establish right away whether or not your accident caused an injury that will require treatment. If you know you are not seriously injured and do not feel the need to rush out in an emergency, you should ask your employer if you are required to see a certain doctor to obtain coverage.
It’s important to note, however, that if you are not satisfied with the physician your employer chooses, it may be worth it to use your own health insurance or an out-of-pocket cost to see a doctor you feel more comfortable visiting. Some workers’ comp laws will also cover you for a doctor’s visit for a second opinion, so be sure to read up on what’s covered for your specific case.
Once you’ve been treated by a doctor and have confirmation as to whether or not an injury was sustained from your accident, be sure to add the documented injury to your accident report so your employer can file the official workers’ compensation claim.
Seek help from a personal injury attorney.
Most workplace-related accidents and injuries will not require legal consultation, especially when workers’ compensation is involved. However, you may feel more comfortable consulting a personal injury attorney to be sure you are following the proper protocol and to determine what benefits you are entitled to receive.
In that case, many personal injury attorneys and legal counsel with experience handling workers’ compensation cases will do an initial consult for free or a very low fee, and can provide you with peace of mind.
Unfortunately, not all cases are cut-and-dry, and sometimes legal action is necessary to protect your rights as an employee. If you find yourself in dispute with the insurance company, or your employer is not providing you with a fair experience, you should consider hiring an attorney to represent your case.
If you kept records and documentation of the entire process as suggested above, you’ll want to present your attorney with everything you have on the case to ensure they are informed and prepared to argue your case.
If your situation involves any of the following, you may be best served by seeking legal help in your workplace injury case:
- Your workers’ compensation claim was denied by the insurance company
- The insurance company disputes your permanent disability rating
- You have a pre-existing condition or injury involving the same body part you injured on the job
- The insurance company is delaying or denying your access to the treatment you need
- Your ability to work has been affected by the injury
- You receive other government benefits
- Your case requires a workers’ compensation hearing
If you were injured on the job, it’s possible you’ll face an uphill battle to receive the care and compensation you need. Protect yourself with the help of a Naples, Florida personal injury attorney like the experienced professionals at Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano.