What to Do After an Injury at Work?
Were you injured during a work-related or occupational activity? You may be wondering what you should do next and what options are available. One likely option is to seek care through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance plan.
Most employers pay workers’ compensation premiums to ensure that their workers are covered in the event of work-related injury or illness. If you or a loved one have been injured at work or on a work-related trip, you may be eligible to receive certain benefits that will compensate you for your medical bills and any related medical expenses. The Iowa personal injury attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling, PLLC can help you file a timely Iowa workers’ compensation claim. Contact our Des Moines workers’ compensation attorneys for guidance on how to file a claim and for other legal advice regarding your workplace injury.
Report the Injury
The first step after being injured on the job is to report the injury to your employer. Additionally, you and your employer need to document the injury and all related expenses.
According to Iowa Code Chapter 86.11, every employer must retain a record of all injuries, fatal or otherwise, reported by an employee to have occurred during the course of the employee’s employment and resulting in an incapacity for more than one day in the future.
When reporting your work injury, ensure that your notice contains the following information:
- The date (and if you can, time) of your injury)
- How the injury occurred
- Where the injury occurred
- What body parts were injured or what illness was contracted
If the work injury is only temporary and causes incapacity for more than three days, the employer or insurance carrier, having notice or knowledge of the occurrence of such an injury and the resulting disability, must file a report with the workers’ compensation commissioner in the form and manner required by the commissioner within four (4) days, not counting Sundays and legal holidays.
If the employee’s work-related injuries or illness result in permanent total disability, permanent partial disability, or death, the employer or insurance carrier must file a report with the workers’ compensation commissioner within four (4) days after receiving notice or knowledge of the employee’s permanent injury or death.
Except for the notice under section 85.23, the report to the workers’ compensation commissioner of injury is without prejudice to the employer or insurance carrier and is not admissible in evidence or used in any trial or hearing before any court, the workers’ compensation commissioner, or a deputy workers’ compensation commissioner.
Seek Medical Attention
Always ensure your safety and health but if you can report your work injury to your employer, do so before leaving the premises. Once you have reported the injury, you should seek immediate medical attention, even if your employer states otherwise. Have your employer contact the workers’ compensation insurance carrier before going to your own care provider, because there are often specific doctors covered under workers’ compensation benefits.
You should follow the provided doctor’s instructions provided and get a second opinion if you believe your situation warrants another evaluation. Keep track of all medical records and medical expenses. All medical bills should be sent to your employer.
The insurance adjusters are going to try to pay the minimum amount, which this why it is necessary to keep track of all related expenses to your injury. If you submit concrete evidence and bills, they will not be able to deny you fair compensation. It is important that all injured employees note any pre-existing conditions and keep those expenses separate. Disclaimers should be made to the workers’ compensation insurance providers in order to avoid being denied a compensation claim.
Stay Employed and Do Not Quit
If you left your job, your employer may be able to avoid having to pay you workers’ compensation benefits for the time you were absent. Furthermore, if you are no longer employed by the company, the insurance company may be able to refuse to provide all of the medical care that would normally be required. Quitting your employment may also negatively affect the strength of your case at hearing.
Additionally, do not call in sick on your own for personal complaints like the flu or a cold. Sometimes, workers think it is best to call in sick to avoid certain light work after a workplace injury. However, this is not the best tactic and can diminish certain benefits given to you under Iowa workers’ compensation claims.
Workers’ Compensation Claim vs. Personal Injury Lawsuit
It is important to note the employee’s only recompense to a workplace injury is through workers’ compensation benefits. An employee cannot bring a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim against their employer. Though, an employee can bring a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit against a third party who may be responsible or partially responsible for your injuries.
The most significant difference in damages between a personal injury lawsuit and a workers’ compensation case is that in a workers’ compensation case, you are not eligible for benefits for pain and suffering. In a personal injury case, you have the right to be compensated for all of your losses. Among the types of losses are lost wages, lost earning ability, medical bills, future medical expenses, permanent impairment, pain and suffering, and loss of pleasure of life (also known as hedonic damages).
However, you can only obtain weekly benefits, permanent impairment benefits, repayment of medical bills, and vocational rehabilitation in a workers’ compensation case. A workers’ compensation attorney can discuss all legal options available to you.
When Should You Return to Work?
You’ll need information from your doctor before deciding whether or not you should return to work after a work-related accident. The doctor treating you for your work-related injury will assess you and make a decision. It’s possible that this determination will be that:
- TYou are free to return to your previous position.
- You are free to return to work as long as certain conditions are met.
- You are free to do other work, with or without limitations.
- You are unable to return to work at this time.
According to Iowa Workers’ Compensation Law, you must accept work that is suitable for your handicap current condition after the work-related injury. The suitable work offer must be provided to you in writing for an injury occurring after July 1, 2017. If you refuse the work that was deemed suitable for your situation, your workers’ compensation payments may be terminated. If you refuse the suitable work offer related to an injury after July 1, 2017, you must do so in writing. You must also describe in writing why you believe the work offer is not suitable for your current condition.
Contact Our Iowa Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Iowa Workers’ compensation law encourages injured workers to return to work as soon as possible. Though, if you feel your health is at risk, you should not return to work. For legal advice regarding your workers’ compensation claim and what to do after sustaining a workplace injury, call an experienced personal injury attorney today.
PLLC can provide you with a free consultation to go over your case. Contact our offices today to schedule an initial consultation. Our contact information can be found online, or you can call us at (515) 444-4000