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Workers’ compensation plays a vital role in the financial security of millions of Americans. If you are like most of us, you can’t afford to be out of work with no income. You also can’t afford big medical bills. With so many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, workers’ compensation provides more than a benefit. It ensures that hard-working, honest people are never left in dire straits as consequence of having worked.
Before workers’ compensation came into being, many workers who suffered an injury on the job were summarily fired because they could no longer perform. Without medical care, their injuries grew worse, preventing them from making a living. Workers’ comp prevents these unjust situations from hurting good people.
If you are injured on the job, it’s important to understand your rights and the benefits that workers’ compensation entitles you to receive. Remember that all benefits under workers’ compensation are guaranteed by the laws of your state. These laws are in place to ensure you are treated fairly, so always get the most out of your workers’ compensation claim.
1. Report the injury right away.
First, you need to meet legal reporting requirements. Every state has a time limit on reporting injuries. The limit varies by state, so know the criteria where you work. For injuries caused by a single, apparent incident, like a fall, the time limit starts on the day of the event. For injuries or illnesses that came on as a result of working over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, the clock starts when you become aware of the damage or become aware that it was caused by work.
In addition to legal requirements, you also want to get medical treatment right away. Under workers’ compensation, medical treatment starts when you make the report. Don’t delay. Your health is too important.
2. Get the medical help you need.
Your company will send you to the emergency room if needed. Ultimately, you will be evaluated by a doctor who works with the insurance company. Make sure to explain all symptoms you have and how they are affecting your life, both on and off work. Discuss what therapies are available to help you heal, such as physical therapy. Often, injuries cause long-term problems with flexibility and can reoccur when the injured area is stressed. Physical therapy strengthens and loosens the wounded area, a key to preventing further problems.
3. Get a free legal consultation.
Workers’ compensation lawyers are happy to speak to you about your situation in confidence. They can advise you if you are being treated fairly under the law. If your claim has been denied, if you are experiencing unreasonable delays, or if you have been retaliated against or fired after a work injury, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer right now. If you are injured on the job and are not getting the benefits you deserve, call a lawyer and fight back.
References and Resources:
- Workers’ Comp Benefits FAQ (Nolo)
- On Legal Experts and Workers Comp (Joel H. Schwartz)
- Workers’ Comp in America (National Economic and Social Rights Initiative)