Filing a workers’ compensation claim is often a stressful process. Some people might even avoid going through it out of fear of jeopardizing their positions. That should never be the case though. The law offers you a good framework of protections, and it’s in your interest to take full advantage of that. Let’s have a look at the basic steps you will need to go through when filing a compensation claim.
1. Report the Incident to Your Employer
The process starts with a notice to your employer. You must report the injury as soon as it has occurred, because you have some strict deadlines to do so. For injuries that did not occur in one incident, but rather developed over time – such as carpal tunnel syndrome, breathing problems, or back pain – you must make the report as soon as you’ve noticed something is wrong.
2. Get Checked Up by a Doctor
Your employer may provide you with a list of doctors approved to handle injury claims. In this case, you need to go through one of them. Make sure that you’re actually given a list though! If it’s just one doctor, that may be a red flag, and you should consult a workers’ compensation attorney straight away. In that case, do not go through with the checkup until you’ve been given the green light by your lawyer.
3. Wait for Paperwork to be Filed
Contrary to what you might expect, it’s actually your employer that files the claim, not you personally. They will do that once they have the evaluation results from your doctor. The doctor will typically submit their report independently, and you don’t have to do anything specific to initiate that process. Check if you’re required to report the incident to any additional channels. Consult your lawyer if you’re not certain. Sometimes you might have to file additional reports within specific deadlines, and you might compromise your entire claim by missing some of them – so be careful!
4. Verify Outcome, Prepare an Appeal if Necessary
All that’s left now is to wait. Once the results are in, you should verify what you’re being offered. Even if the claim was approved, you might not necessarily end up with compensation that covers your damages in full. If that’s the case, you have some negotiation options that you should leverage before accepting the proposal. If your claim was denied, you can file an appeal. Get in touch with your lawyer to verify how that process goes, and what you will need to do on your end. Don’t worry – this is a completely normal procedure, even if it seems scary at first.
The most important thing is to never keep quiet. It’s not just about you! Every time you hide an injury, you’re making things worse for your coworkers who might get injured themselves one day. The workers’ compensation process is designed to be a smooth and straightforward as possible, and you should not ignore what it has to offer.