When you suffer an injury at your place of work your priority will be to get the medical treatment you need in the circumstances but it is also very important to be mindful that you have certain rights as an employee that you need to protect at this point.
It is possible that you have read through your employee handbook and think that you know your rights when it comes getting your wages and medical bills covered but there are definitely some key issues that it would be wise to be up to speed with if you want to be sure that you are treated as fairly as you should be by your employer.
Here is a look at some of those important rights that become so relevant if you are injured at work.
Do you know about workers’ compensation?
If you suffer an injury while you are working it is normally the case that you might be entitled to the benefits associated with the Workers Compensation scheme.
In simple terms, Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance that is arranged by your employer so that you might be able to claim reimbursement for any loss of earnings that you suffer while you are recuperating and unable to work.
The insurance is also intended to compensate you for hospital costs and medical bills that you incur during your treatment process.
It should be remembered that your employer has the right to challenge your entitlement to claim the benefits attached to Workers’ Compensation benefits.
If there is a dispute raised and your employer does not consider that you are entitled to the payments you might find that the insurance company backing the scheme withholds payment until a resolution is found.
If you find this happening to you it is advisable to seek out the services of a lawyer who has experience of representing your interests and getting the payments due to you for your injury at work.
When can you expect to start receiving payments?
Being unable to work your normal hours’ can soon have consequences for your personal finances and that is where the Workers’ Compensation scheme is designed to provide the help you need to see you through this difficult period.
The scheme is designed to compensate you for medical costs and cover you for any lost earnings.
However, you should note that you need to have been absent from work for at least fourteen days before the benefits are available to you.
The amount you are able to claim will depend on how much you are normally paid each week and the extent of your injuries.
Making a claim for compensation
There are a number of key steps that you will need to follow in order to make a successful claim for Workers’ Compensation.
In the immediate aftermath after suffering an injury while at work your fundamental priority should be to seek out the medical attention and treatment that is appropriate to the injuries that you have sustained.
The clock is ticking once you have suffered an injury and it is your responsibility to inform your employer in writing that you intend to make a claim and provide an outline of the injuries that you have sustained and your version of events that caused you to suffer an injury.
See a doctor
You will need to see a doctor as part of your assessment and treatment process.
Once you have filed a claim with the Workers Compensation Board and sent your claim paperwork to the appropriate local board district office you will need to get a doctors report to support your claim.
The doctor will be required to file a preliminary medical report and a copy of this should be sent to you as well as your employer in addition to going to the local district office.
Once you are in the claims system it is expected that your doctor will supply a progress report on your recovery process every 45 days.
If you are still unable to return to your normal work duties after 12 weeks have lapsed it is likely that your insurer will then suggest that you undergo rehabilitation treatment.
Not your only channel for claiming compensation
There are financial limits attached to Workers’ Compensation and it is plausible that the amount you are entitled to claim under the scheme is not sufficient for your financial and medical needs.
It is possible that the circumstances of your accident will permit you to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit as a way of claiming a greater level of compensation that is more appropriate to the level of injuries that you are having to deal with.
Although you might find your claim against your employer being challenged you might find that you can pursue another party who could be considered responsible for the injury you have sustained.
For example, if the building where you work had a defect that caused you to suffer an accident you might be able to file a claim against the landlord.
Choose your own doctor
Finally, you may not be aware that it is often the case that you have the right to request that you are assessed by a doctor of your choice.
Your employer might arrange for you to be examined by the company physician but it is feasible that you may not be happy with the quality of care provided and want to seek out the opinion of your regular doctor.
You do have to comply with your employer’s request to have your injuries evaluated by the company’s in-house doctor but you are within your rights to see an alternative doctor of your choosing after you have been seen by your employer’s chosen physician.
It is a common misconception amongst employees that they have to abide by the rules imposed by their employer and remain under the guidance of the company physician.
When you consider that they may well be tasked with protecting the reputation and finances of your employer it becomes obvious that it is better to seek out an alternative private doctor to examine you rather than one who may potentially not have your interests as their top priority.
Know your rights as an employee and use all the avenues available to you if you find yourself needing to make a claim as a result of being injured at work.