Published on November 13th, 2019
Every employer has a mandate to create a safe and healthy working environment. However, even with all measures taken, accidents happen, and people get sick at work.
According to the International Labor Organization, 340 million occupational accidents and 160 million work-related illnesses are reported every year.
While the construction industry has been known to have the highest rate of accidents and fatalities, it is work-related diseases that cause the most deaths.
Protecting yourself against accidents and diseases may not be possible, but what are your rights if you ever get injured at work?
1. Right To Seek Medical Attention
The first step you should take when you get into an accident or get sick at work is to get medical attention. Some companies have a medic on sight that will take care of the first aid before calling an ambulance if need be.
However, you should get checked by a doctor who will also document your injuries or illness. Seek medical care even if you are okay after a fall or being hit by something to avoid internal injuries. Ideally, you should see a doctor who doesn’t work for your employer because they might be biased.
2. Right To Report The Accident
Write to your employer to report the accident as soon as you can. If the injuries are bad, you must seek medical attention first. However, as soon as you get a chance to write, document the accident, and send it to your employer.
The law provides up to 30 days before the statute of limitations kicks in but do it sooner, preferably the same day. You should report it even if no one were seriously injured so the company can take safety measures.
3. Right To File A Compensation Claim
Once you report the accident or illness, your employer should provide you with a compensation claim to fill. Fill up the employee part and sign it.
Return the form to the employer to fill in their section and sign also. The employer must file the compensation claim for you and give you a copy of the request.
The employer’s insurance company will get back to you with a report of your benefits within 14 days. Sometimes, large companies like Aetna can decide to deny or delay your benefits for unreasonable reasons.
In this case, you have the right to get a disability attorney and appeal their decision in a worker’s compensation court. You must be compensated for any loss of wages or medical expenses you incur.
4. Right To Return To Work
If your injury was not very bad, you could decide to go back to work immediately. Feel free to do so if the doctor has cleared you. The employer has no grounds to stop you from working because you were injured or force you to take a leave of absence.
5. Right To Take A Paid Leave
However, if your injuries were terrible, and you must stay at home or in the hospital for a few days, weeks, or months, you have the right to paid leave. While not all employees will get their full pay when they are on sick leave, you are entitled to statutory sick pay.
The amount may be enough to take care of your bare minimums, but it helps while you recover. The insurance company will compensate you for any lost wages you have suffered during that time.
6. Right To Refuse Illegal Requests
Part of understanding your rights is also knowing what you can decline. Sometimes the employer will try to talk you into using your insurance to cover the medical expenses, and you have the right to say no. Others will try to bribe you, so you don’t file a worker’s compensation claim.
The law requires you to file the claim without fear of harassment, and anybody who tries to stop, you will face the law. Consulting a worker’s compensation attorney during this process will help you to know what your rights are.
Except for very few industries like domestic workers, every employer must have workers compensation insurance.
If they do not have one, you will need to file a lawsuit with the worker’s compensation court so the company can be ordered to pay your compensation from their pockets.
There are a few exceptions to workers compensations even if you file a claim as soon as possible. One of them is intoxication by drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.
Being responsible at work and following the safety measure outlined by the organization can help prevent many work-related injuries and illnesses.