Every year 3.3 million Americans are injured in the work place. If you are one of the unfortunate workers who have suffered workplace accidents or injuries, you are probably entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. There are certain steps you should take after the incident to help ensure that you receive those benefits.
Steps to Take When You Have Been Injured at Work
- Let your employer know that you have been injured as soon as possible after the accident. In the case of cumulative injuries that develop over time, such as carpel tunnel syndrome, notify your employer as soon as you become aware that the injury is work related. Early reporting can help avoid delays in your benefits. Be aware that you could lose your right to receive benefits if your injury is not reported within 30 days.
- Get emergency treatment if you need it. Call 911 if necessary. Your employer may instruct you where to go for treatment. Be sure to inform your medical provider that the injury or illness is work related.
- Your employer is required to give or mail you a claim form within one working day after learning about your injury. If your employer fails to provide you with the form, you can download it from the forms page of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) website. Fill out the form and give it to your employer. This opens your workers’ compensation case and starts the process of obtaining benefits.
Medical Treatment for a Work-Related Injury or Illness
After you have filed a claimed, your employer must provide you with medical care. You are entitled to reasonable treatment to cure or relieve the work-related illness or injury. Your treating physicians must follow a certain set of guidelines for your treatment.
If you pre-designated your doctor before you were injured, your own doctor can treat you immediately after your injury. However, if your employer has a Medical Provider Network (MPN) — a group of healthcare providers selected by the employer or insurance company to treat injured workers — you must select a doctor within the MPN for subsequent treatment.
Your employer may have a health care organization (HCO) – an organization certified by the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to provide managed healthcare to injured workers. If you choose to be in the HCO, it will coordinate your health care for your job-related injury.
If you have not pre-designated a doctor and your employer does not have an MPN or an HCO, the claims administrator can select your treating physician for the first 30 days after your employer was notified of your injury. After the 30 days, you may receive treatment from a doctor of your choice.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
For eligible workers, 5 basic benefits are provided through workers’ compensation insurance:
- Medical care (as discussed above)
- Temporary disability benefits (to compensate you partially for lost wages due to temporary inability to work)
- Permanent disability benefits (to compensate you for lost wages if your ability to work was not completely recovered)
- Supplemental job displacement benefits (vouchers to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement if you do not completely recover and do not go back to work for your employer)
- Death benefits (payments to your dependents should you fail to survive your work-related injury)