Every year in the U.S., workers file 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injury or illness claims. They range from broken bones to serious medical conditions, cuts, and bruises.
If you’ve been the victim of a workplace injury or illness, you know how stressful it can be. From figuring out how to get compensation to learning your rights, you’ll have to navigate the legal system while injured or sick. The stress can easily make a bad situation worse.
Workplace injury lawyers help take away this stress, leaving you to take care of your health.
If you’ve been injured on the job, keep reading to learn 5 tips on how to deal with your injury and finding and working with a workplace injury lawyer.
1. File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The first thing you need to do after getting injured is file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation claims alert your employer, their insurance, and your insurance about your injury.
After you’ve received medical attention, you’ll need to let your employer know you’ve been injured. Once you’ve done so, you’ll need to request an official claim form.
This form will include questions about your injuries, how they occurred, what you were doing, and who else was involved. You’ll want to take the time to fill in the form with care. Tell the truth and be clear in your responses.
Failing to do so could give your employer cause to fight your claim.
Once you’ve filled in your workers’ compensation claim, you’ll submit it to your employer. They are then responsible for filing the claim.
Don’t be shy about requesting or submitting workers’ compensation. Your employer can’t legally punish you for doing so. Your workers’ compensation is guaranteed by the United States Department of Labor under the Federal Employment Compensation Act.
2. Don’t Wait to Contact a Lawyer
Whether you suffered a serious injury or a minor one, don’t put off contacting a workplace injury lawyer.
Waiting to contact a workplace injury lawyer means delaying any compensation you might receive. It also gives your employer time to build a case against you, hurting your chances of getting the justice you deserve.
But when is the right time to call a lawyer? It largely depends on your case, the extent of your injury, and how it was obtained.
For instance, if you suffered a minor injury like a twisted ankle or a small cut, you may not need to contact a lawyer right away. Instead, you should submit an insurance claim.
But if your employer then fights that insurance claim, you’ll then need to contact a workplace injury lawyer.
If you were seriously injured or had to take time off work, you need to contact a lawyer much sooner.
Did you go straight from the worksite to the hospital? If so, as soon as you are stable, you should look for a workplace injury lawyer.
If you didn’t go the hospital, then as soon as you get home, start your search for a workplace injury lawyer.
How to Find the Right Workplace Injury Lawyer
After you figure out when to call a workplace injury lawyer, you have to find the right one for the job.
Regardless of the extent of your injuries, you need a lawyer with proven experience dealing with cases of injuries in the workplace.
Start locally. Local lawyers know the area better than larger firms. When you start searching through local lawyers, narrow your search further to only those with relevant prior experience.
You don’t want someone fresh out of law school.
Then, take the list of potential lawyers and ask a few other key questions:
- How long have you been in practice? The longer a lawyer has practiced, the more cases they’ve seen. They’ll be more prepared to handle the unique situation surrounding your case.
- What is your track record of success? They don’t need to have won every case, but too many losses should be a red flag.
- What does your current caseload look like? If they take on too many cases, you may have trouble setting up meetings or arranging court dates.
Before you hire a workplace injury lawyer, you’ll also want to ask them about their procedures and prices. But these three questions are a good way to narrow down your list.
In some cases, workplace injury lawyers might not be the right choice. Instead, a personal injury lawyer may be better able to handle your claim.
3. Take Care of Yourself During the Process
When you’ve been injured on the job, it can be easy to get caught up in the legalese. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Regardless of the extent of your injury, take time to relax and breathe. The more stressed you are, the longer it will take to recuperate.
Unless your injury was life-altering or has limited your mobility, try to get back to your normal habits as quickly as possible. The sooner you can return to your routine, the better you’ll feel.
That doesn’t mean you should immediately throw on your work boots. Even after you’re back on your feet, you need to review your employment contract. Talk to your workplace injury lawyer before you go back to work.
Your employer may have rules about when you can return to work, especially if you’re involved in legal proceedings. If your employer fights against your injury claim, your lawyer may also suggest waiting to return to work.
4. Prepare for the Length of Your Legal Proceedings
Workers’ compensation claims can take a while to be filed. They can take even longer to fulfill. If you have to hire a workplace injury lawyer and go to court, it could delay the process even further.
In the meantime, you may not be able to work. You’ll also have medical costs you may have to pay upfront, especially if you have to take over-the-counter medications or outpatient treatments.
If your injury was minor and your case isn’t complicated, you should get the compensation you need fast. Then, you can get back on the job and back to a steady paycheck.
But if you can’t go back to work right away, you may need to prepare to go a while without a paycheck.
Planning Your Finances
While it can be tough to estimate how long your legal proceedings and work hiatus will be, planning your finances can help you stretch your money further.
If you have savings, you may not need to skimp. But if you don’t, it’s a good idea to create a budget for groceries and your bills. That way, you can make your money last longer.
If you’re worried about whether your money will last long enough, talk to your workplace injury lawyer. They can give you a clear idea of how long your case could take.
While their estimate may not be exact, they should have enough experience to let you know what to expect.
5. Learn Your Rights
After you’ve taken care of yourself, filed your workers’ compensation claim, and found the right workplace injury lawyer, take the time to learn your rights.
Workers’ compensation is designed to pay for expenses accumulated because of your injury including:
- Hospital fees – including surgeries, procedures, and overnight or extended stays
- Medical expenses
- Disability payments while you can’t work
- Rehabilitation and retraining – depending on the type of injury you sustained and your state
Know what you are entitled to under workers’ comp. It’ll help you figure out whether your employer is trying to undercut their responsibilities.
Choosing a Workplace Injury Lawyer and Filing for Workers’ Comp
Workplace injury lawyers help take the stress and worry away from injured workers. They are there to help them file workers’ comp claims. They can answer your legal questions and communicate with your employer for you.
They are also prepared to help fight against negligent employers.
But does your case really call for the help of a lawyer? Would a Phoenix personal injury lawyer be a better choice?
If you’re not sure of the answer to those questions, check out this article about whether or not you need to hire a lawyer after you’ve been injured while on the job.