There have been a good number of articles written about what to do if you are an injured worker, and we think it bears repeating. But remember that two of the most important elements of doing what you should do to ensure you get a fair outcome, proper medical treatment and compensation for your injuries, time off work and pain and suffering is the element of timeliness and the element of thoroughness.
Before we go down the list of to-do items, let us emphasize that when an injury happens in a workplace the clock begins ticking and when it comes time to review accident reports, it is always the most thoroughly documented that stand out. As an O’Fallon workers compensation law firm we can tell you that one of the tell-tale signs of an difficult workman’s comp claim is the claim that is cobbled together long after the fact and in an incomplete or sparse manner
Just remember that each of the following items are important parts of successfully filing a workers compensation claim, but they should each be handled promptly and documented as thoroughly as possible.
Report Your Injury To Your Employer
Every, and we repeat, EVERY injury sustained at work should be reported to your employer. By law they should have a system in place to receive these reports and to file them properly per the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
While it is true that you have the right to report your accident verbally or in writing, which do you think is best? Every workers compensation lawyer worth his salt loves a throughly documented paper trail. You know who else loves documentation? Judges, juries and review boards.
Having documentation of your injury report from your workplace accident is just the first of many pieces of documentation that will strengthen your case by showing that you took it seriously from the start. The words “from the start” are important too. Remember, the date on your report should be as close to the date of the injury as possible. This signals that you gave your employer a report of your injury and of any dangerous conditions in a timely manner. By starting the process right away and by documenting it, you signal that it is to be taken seriously.
Speak To Your Doctor About Your Injury
Much has been said about not brushing off a slip and fall or a pulled muscle as something to be simply treated with an aspirin. Injuries that might seem minor have a way of becoming aggravated later or of being serious, though seemingly inconsequential at the time of the accident. We’ve all had the experience of getting hurt and then a day or two later realizing the severity of the injury.
Just as you wasted no time reporting your injury to your boss, you should schedule an appointment with your physician. And guess what you should walk out of his or her office with? A medical report signed by your doctor listing the cause of the injury, the symptoms, their observations and any medical recommendations such as referrals, treatments or other information.
Your doctor knows you and your health condition and by enlisting their advice you are taking your injury seriously. You are making efforts to have the issues related to being injured on the job addressed and remedied. And, again, your timely doctor’s visit and the documentation that comes with it show that you are serious about your physical setback and that you are making efforts to get it taken care of.
Inform your doctor that any and all correspondence regarding billing should be forwarded directly to your employer with a copy sent to you for your records.
Follow Up With Your Employer
Your employer is required to submit a workers comp report. You should receive a copy of this report for your files. Read it. Be sure that the facts are all recorded accurately in terms of the time, occasion, situation and environment in which your accident occurred.
Be sure, also, that the description of your injuries are accurately reported in the report.
Again, time and accurate documentation are important. Read any reports carefully and don’t be afraid to ask that they be amended if they are inaccurate. These reports will make up the structure of your case and it’s important that you do not sign off on anything that doesn’t accurately represent what happened.
Keep an Injury Journal
It’s important to bridge the data between the “official” reports of what happened. Certain aspects of your injury are difficult to report such as pain and suffering. A journal is a good way to communicate and record how you are feeling on a daily basis, how much pain you’re experiencing, limitations in what you are able to do and how the injury is affecting you subjectively.
Also, keep a record of the medications you must take and the therapy sessions you attend. This gives anyone evaluating your case a better understanding of how it truly affects you. Often times, medical reports and injury reports aren’t able to tell the whole story. Physical pain and mental anguish are often parts of the healing process that go unnoticed.
Contact a Worker’s Compensation Attorney in O’Fallon, IL
It’s important to contact an attorney well-versed in workers compensation benefits, with a knowledge of how to properly file an injury claim in Illinois and with an understanding of what to expect after you file a claim. To many people, after being hurt at work, lawyers might seem unnecessary and even overly litigious. Loyal workers often fear, after being hurt on the job, lawyers might jeopardize their working relationship. This is understandable, but wrong.
After you suffer and report workplace injuries your employer hands the case off to his insurance company or to the corporate office. Both of these entities are impersonal and generally interested in keeping costs down and settling the case or injury lawsuit as quickly and cheaply as possible.
It’s important that schedule a timely and hopefully well-documented meeting with a legal expert trained in workers compensation law to get a full picture of what you should expect to ensure you heal and are able to return to work. An attorney can look at your case and find any nuances such as whether your employer is the sole party responsible or whether you have a 3rd party claim against another contractor or equipment manufacturer.
If you’ve been hurt at work on the railroad, it’s important to contact a lawyer who deals with and understands FELA cases.
In either case, Kujawski & Associates, LLC, wants to help evaluate your case. Schedule a free consultation now by calling: 618-622-3600 or Toll-Free 800-624-4571