There is sometimes some confusion as to what you do after you suffer a work-related injury. That confusion can hurt your case when you seek compensation under the Act.
After you are injured on the job, you should find out if there are any witnesses. If there were some witnesses, you should write down their names and telephone numbers, if possible. This may be necessary if a dispute arises as to whether or not you were injured at work. If you have a cell phone, you should take pictures of the accident scene and try to determine what caused the accident. If a party who was not employed by your employer caused the accident, then you might have a lawsuit against them for causing your injury. This would be a recovery in addition to the one you should receive under the Workers Compensation Act.
Soon after the accident, you should notify your supervisor about the accident and injury. Most employers will require you to fill out an incident report. This report is used quite often by the employer to defend against your claim. You should, therefore, describe the accident in general terms and not be specific. You should also generalize as to the injury and the body part injured. If you are too specific, the employer may use it against you later. For example, if you state that you injured your elbow and you later develop shoulder pain, the employer will argue that the shoulder complaints are not work-related. A good way to handle this problem is to list on the report that you injured your elbow but you are unsure if you have suffered any other injuries due to your pain.
Even if you do not have to fill out a written accident report, you must report your accident to the employer. This is required by the Workers Compensation Act. Failure to notify your employer, either verbally or orally within 45 days of the accident, could cause your claim to be denied. If you report the accident verbally, you should inform your immediate supervisor or the safety director. You should write down who you told when you told the individual and where you were when that occurred. If possible, try to have a witness with you when you report the accident. The employer will have a more difficult denying that they received notice that way.
After the injury, some employers and their insurance company will want to obtain a statement from you as to how the accident occurred. “DO NOT PROVIDE THEM WITH A STATEMENT”. If it is not required by the Act and it may only be used against you at a potential hearing.
When you seek medical treatment after the accident, you should provide your medical provider with a detailed summary of how you injured yourself. If the injury was due to repetitive activities, then you should indicate the type of work that you performed for the employer in as much detail as possible. You should then check with your attorney and provide him with an extremely thorough job description so that your treating doctor can have a basis to render opinions regarding causal connections. If you follow the above steps, then you will have a much better chance of succeeding with your claim.