What should you do if you are injured at work?

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     If you suffer an injury while performing your job for your employer, the most important thing you should do is REPORT THE INJURY TO YOUR EMPLOYER IMMEDIATELY. Tell your supervisor, manager, human resource department or another person with authority.  Do not just mention an accident to a co-worker and assume that your employer has proper notice of the accident.  It is best to report an injury through some type of recorded writing, whether it be text message, e-mail, or other type of written document.    Reporting can be made in person or through a phone call but is best if there is a witness to the conversation.  If you suffer a serious injury and need emergency medical care, then you should seek medical help immediately. However, you must still report the accident to your employer as soon as possible.

       Notifying your employer about an injury is important because there is a specific provision in the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act that requires an employee to provide written notice of an injury within five days after an accident.  Although the courts have not strictly enforced this time limitation and have allowed claims to proceed where there is good cause for delay or the employer has actual notice of the accident, the best practice is to provide notice as soon as possible.

       It is also important to make some type of documentation recording the details of how your accident happened, what part of your body was injured, whether your injury was immediately painful or disabling or if it worsened after time. You should also keep a record of the persons who witnessed an accident and if possible take pictures of the scene of the accident, any equipment or materials that were involved in the accident as well as the portion of your body that was injured if it is a visible injury.

       Most employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance.  If you are hurt at work, then your employer should send you to a doctor through its workers’ compensation program. If your employer refuses to take a report of your accident or send you for medical treatment under workers’ compensation, then you can contact the workers’ compensation provider directly for assistance.  Employers are required to post the name and phone number of their workers’ compensation provider in an area that is open to employees.  If you cannot locate it, you should call the Alabama Department of Labor at 1-800-528-5166 and ask them to provide you with contact information for your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier or administrator.

       It is important to truthfully report how the injury happened to all medical providers. Remember, when investigating whether or not a work injury is compensable, workers’ compensation carriers will look at your past medical history and statements made to your current doctors.  If this information is not consistent, it may jeopardize your claim. If an employer refuses to provide you with medical treatment for a work injury after you have reported it correctly and asked for them to provide treatment, you may go to the doctor on your own and seek reimbursement for your care. Be sure to keep a record of anything that you have to spend out of pocket for treatment. You should also keep a record of your mileage traveling to and from treatment for the injury.

    At Siniard, Timberlake & League, we have helped injured workers recover workers’ compensation benefits for over 30 years and have represented thousands of injured workers.  If you are injured on the job, we can help.