Every day at work, you give your best to your company. You work hard, dig in, and get your job done. In some industries, including logging, construction, trash collection, fishing, and piloting, that also means accepting the risk of potential injury every time you go to work. Even in the least dangerous office job, however, injuries can occur on the job. What happens after an injury? Do you understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to workers’ compensation? Worse, are you struggling to get the compensation you deserve from your company following a serious injury? If you need legal help following an accident at work, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH).
Do You Really Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Many people assume that after they have an accident at work their company’s workers’ compensation insurance will take care of them. They might have a long history with their company, leading them to assume that the company will do their best for them after a serious injury. They might have seen other employees injured in the past who got exactly what they expected in compensation from the company. So, is it really necessary to hire a workers’ compensation attorney after a workplace injury?
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney like those at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman can offer many advantages to a person who was seriously injured at work. Consider:
- An attorney can help an injured worker understand the full extent of their rights under workers’ compensation and Florida law. Florida law aims to provide efficient, effective coverage for medical bills and other expenses as soon as possible after a workplace injury. Unfortunately, many insurance companies try to drag out the process, which makes it difficult for injured workers to get the help they deserve. An experienced attorney understands the strategies insurance companies may use to limit payouts for workers’ compensation, can advise their injured client about how to conduct themselves in meetings or on social media to preserve their claims, and know-how long their client should return to work following an accident.
- An attorney can help increase the compensation an injured worker receives for their injuries. Unlike traditional personal injury claims, injury claims under workers’ compensation may not include pain and suffering as part of the payout. The damages an injured worker receives, however, can vary based on the company’s workers’ compensation insurance policy, the severity of their injuries, and how long it takes them to return to work. In many cases, an attorney can help increase their client’s compensation and make it easier for them to get financial support after their accident.
- An attorney can take care of negotiations on their client’s behalf. Stressful interactions with an insurance company are not helpful when an injured worker is trying to recover from a traumatic workplace injury. An attorney can take over negotiations with the insurance company, allowing their client to focus on the hard work of recovering rather than on the stress of dealing with the insurance company’s antics.
What Should You Expect After an Accident at Work?
An accident at work can leave an injured worker floundering, unsure of what to do next. How will they need to adapt after the accident in terms of changes to their lifestyle or their job? How does the legal process work? Many victims of workplace accidents find that working with an attorney can give them a better idea about what to expect as they move through the claims process and seek compensation for their injuries. While each claim will play out differently, there are several key things an injured worker can expect to happen after an accident.
Reporting the Accident
After an accident at work, an injured worker should seek medical attention as soon as possible. The worker must also report their accident and resulting injuries to their employer. This workplace report will serve as the foundation for a workers’ compensation claim, so a worker should file the report as soon as possible after their accident.
Many people attempt to continue working after what they initially perceive as a “minor” injury or fall. They do not want to take the time to fill out the paperwork or to leave work to deal with the injury. However, some serious injuries like traumatic brain injuries may not show symptoms immediately. Instead, the injured worker may feel perfectly fine or only mildly injured at the time of the accident, only to discover hours later that they really needed immediate medical attention. Many companies have policies that require workers to report accidents and seek medical attention immediately.
Some workplaces also require their employees to use a specific provider or set of providers to seek medical attention after an injury at work. In some cases, this will be an on-site clinic or provider; in other cases, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company specifies a particular off-site medical provider.
While every incident is different, the following are some accidents that are common to particular types of workplaces:
Construction site accidents. On a construction site, many employees face constant potential danger. Construction workers frequently:
- Fall from heights
- Are crushed between equipment and fixed objects like walls
- Are severely shocked or electrocuted
- Suffer from exposure to dangerous chemicals
- Use potentially dangerous tools or machinery
Slips and falls. In any industry, slips and falls can occur as workers walk across wet flooring, use a ladder, or even balance on a table or other high surface to get something off of a shelf. Slip and fall accidents often cause substantial injury, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue damage like strains, pulls, or sprains
Equipment injuries. Anyone who regularly works with heavy machinery might suffer crushing injuries, amputations, or broken bones. Even closely following safety precautions may not protect a worker from injury if equipment malfunctions or something else beyond their control goes wrong.
Repetitive stress injuries. In some cases, workers sustain injuries due not to an accident, but repetitive stress. Many industries require workers to make the same motion over and over throughout the day, which can be extremely hard on the body over time. Repetitive stress injuries may require time off from work to allow a worker to rest and recover or require them to change job responsibilities altogether to give their body time to recuperate.
Auto accidents. Many people drive for their jobs. Truckers head out on the road for hours at a time, while delivery drivers usually take shorter trips in denser population areas. Transportation accidents continue to make up a large portion of workers’ compensation claims. Auto accidents can cause serious injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Organ damage
- Soft tissue damage
Fires and explosions. In any industry, fires present a very real hazard. Burns can cause serious pain and suffering as well as permanent scarring. In industries where workers handle hazardous chemicals or materials, the risk of burns or explosions is high. Burns are ranked by degree:
- First degree burns involve only the first layer of skin, usually leaving the victim with some redness and discomfort.
- Second degree burns damage the top several layers of skin, usually causing severe pain and blistering or redness.
- Third degree burns penetrate lower into a victim’s skin and muscle tissue, and often appear blackened. In some cases, third degree burns may cause less pain than first or second degree burns due to nerve damage.
- Fourth degree burns involve skin, muscle, and, in some cases, bone damage. Fourth degree burns typically cause long-term health issues.
Violence. If a worker starts a fight at work, they might not have grounds to file a workers’ compensation claim. On the other hand, someone who is a victim of workplace violence at the hands of a coworker or angry customer may receive workers’ compensation for their injuries.
Any workplace injury, even if it does not fit into a neat category or description, may be grounds for a workers’ compensation claim. This is especially true if the injury prevents the worker from going back to work for some time. If you’ve been injured at work, talking with a lawyer can help you more effectively determine whether your injury qualifies for workers’ compensation coverage, and if there are other sources of compensation that you may be able to pursue.
How Does Responsibility for the Accident Impact Workers’ Compensation Claims?
Any time a worker suffers an injury at work, workers’ compensation will help pay for treatment of that injury unless the worker deliberately self-inflicted it. Even if a worker failed to follow safety precautions or made a mistake on the job, they are still eligible to receive workers’ compensation. The worker must disclose the details of the accident in their workers’ compensation report, however.
The report should also discuss any factors outside the company’s control that may have contributed to the accident, such as faulty equipment, an outside contractor, or another driver in an auto accident. In some cases, an injured worker may receive compensation from other sources in addition to their company’s workers’ compensation insurance. For example, if you suffered injuries in an auto accident while on the clock, you may receive compensation from the other party’s insurance company in addition to workers’ compensation.
What Can an Injured Worker Receive from Workers’ Comp?
After an accident outside of work, many people seek damages for pain and suffering as part of their personal injury claim. In workers’ compensation cases, however, injured workers cannot receive compensation for their pain and suffering. Instead, they may ask for:
- Payment for medical expenses. This includes any immediate medical care related to the workplace accident as well as for likely future care. Most workers’ compensation policies impose limits on how long the company can pay for care directly. Eventually, the company will likely issue a payout based on anticipated future medical expenses.
- Coverage for lost wages. When an injured worker must miss work due to their injury, workers’ compensation will generally pay approximately 2/3 of their normal wages while they are unable to go to work. Generally, the insurance company will not negotiate this amount, and the only way for the worker to recover the full amount of their wages is if someone other than their employer is responsible for their injuries. A worker who is permanently injured and cannot ever return to work may be eligible for long-term disability payments.
When Should an Injured Worker Return to Work?
After their accident, injured workers should exercise care in returning to their job duties. As part of an agreement with their company after an injury, a worker may ask for reasonable modifications that make it possible for them to continue with their job responsibilities given their injuries. These modifications may make it possible for the worker to return to work in spite of those injuries; however, returning to work too soon can limit their workers’ compensation payments.
If the worker returns to work, but then has to stop working again, some companies may not allow them to claim compensation for any time they miss after they have returned the first time. This may be the case even if the company allows the worker to return to work but decides once they return that they are unable to complete their duties as assigned due to their injuries. And if a worker returns to their job on a part-time basis, their company may stop workers’ compensation payments and simply compensate the worker for the part-time hours they spend on the job.
Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
If you sustained serious injuries at work, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate the complicated workers’ compensation process, and may be able to help you seek additional compensation from any responsible parties aside from your employer. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or through our online contact form.