While a lot has changed as a result of COVID-19, how to respond to on-the-job injuries has not. While every case is, to a certain extent, different, there are certain basics which almost always apply.
1. Tell your employer.
If you are injured on the job or think that you are, tell your employer. There may be certain processes or procedures that you are to follow in reporting an on-the-job injury. Find them. Check your employer’s website, your employee handbook, or ask someone in authority at work. Then, follow the process.
2. Document everything.
Keep a record of everything. Write it in a journal, diary or calendar, or keep it in the notes on your phone. But document everything that happens – when the injury occurred, how it felt, who witnessed anything of importance, who you told at work, what they said, etc. Along with every entry, note when it occurred – date and time. Document everything related to your injury, your treatment, and your interactions with your employer about your injury. If you aren’t sure whether you need to write it down, write it down.
3. Get treatment.
In order to be treated for your injury, you will need to be examined by a medical professional. Your employer may have a medical provider that they want you to use. Use that one. However, if you would like a second opinion, say so. Again, document everything.
4. Follow doctor’s orders.
If your doctor tells you not to work, don’t work. If your doctor tells you not to lift more than 20 pounds, that means at work and at home. If you are supposed to wear a brace, wear it. Follow doctor’s orders. If you disagree with the doctor, seek a second opinion. Don’t simply ignore doctor’s orders. Don’t go back to work too soon. If you are still having problems, get them checked out. Don’t go back until you are cleared to do so. If you have limitations, make sure that your employer knows them. And then follow them. If do not feel that you can perform your assigned tasks safely, tell your supervisor.
5. Don’t sign anything unless you have read it completely and understand what it says.
The law generally provides that if you signed something, then you are presumed to have read it, even if it is a long form. If you don’t understand what a document says or what it means, then don’t sign it, and don’t take someone’s word for what it says. If they tell you that the form says one thing and it actually says something else, chances are that you will be stuck with what the document says (not what someone said it said). Get a copy of everything that you sign.
6. If you have any questions, ask someone knowledgeable and experienced in workers’ compensation.
Regardless of what a friend or family member may have experienced with their own workers’ compensation issue, it pays to ask the right person. While they may simply be trying to help, things change, and everyone’s case is different. Ask a professional. Ask someone with knowledge and experience in the area of workers’ compensation. We are happy to answer your questions. Feel free to call us.