Being injured is never easy. Being injured at work can add an insane amount of challenge to what would ordinarily be a difficult situation. There is a mountain of paperwork to fill out, sensations of disloyalty or guilt to overcome, anxiety about the security of your position at work (or ability to work in the future at all), plus the pain and financial burden of the injury.
It can be hard to know exactly what course of action to take, especially because everyone is telling you something different and part of you is well aware that their advice seems to be in their best interest. The following will break down some of the things you need to do if you’ve been injured at work.
It is worth noting that these steps are an excellent place to start but that every injury and workplace situation is different. For the most valuable information regarding your particular context, it’s best to consult with a legal professional.
Seek Medical Attention
If you’ve been injured, the foremost task is to seek medical attention. There are many types of injuries that take time to fully reveal themselves, and conditions like shock don’t help you make sense of your injuries any more accurate. Even if you are aware of what hurts and why it’s a good idea to get a professional to take a look. Many long-term damages can be curbed by early intervention, meaning your recovery might depend on seeking help as soon as you can.
From a legal standpoint, having medical records can serve as a piece of evidence regarding your injury. It’s crucial that you follow the recommendations outlined by your doctor and take any prescribed medications. If you don’t do this, compensation insurance workers or a judge might use this information to determine that your injuries are not as bad as they first seem.
Don’t Return To Unsafe Work
If you or someone else is being asked to complete the same task that led to your injury, you have a right to refuse the work. You are legally protected from work-related repercussions for this. As well, from a legal perspective, returning to the work that harmed you might be interpreted as you not have been as hurt as you claim you are.
Weigh Your Compensation Options
Contrary to popular belief, there are many avenues you can consider when seeking compensation for lost wages, medical bills, suffering, or other impacts from your injury. Almost always, if you’ve pursued one path towards compensation, you’re legally not able to pursue other paths.
To figure out which path is right for you and your situation, you might want to consult a lawyer. In particular, you’ll want to speak to a lawyer practicing in the state where the injury occurred, as the law varies from state to state. A local attorney might be an even better option seeing as they have preexisting relationships with the local judges, insurance companies, and worker’s compensation teams. You’ll also want to find a lawyer who specializes in the type of law you’re dealing with. This might be listed as: workplace injury lawyer, personal injury attorney, worker’s compensation lawyer, or something similar. If, for example, you were working in Boston when injured, you might search for a Boston workers compensation lawyer. Many lawyers offer free consultations or accept payment only if and when they’ve won your case. If finances are the main reason you’ve neglected to seek a lawyer’s advice up until this point, read up on the local legal professionals available. Someone will be able to work with your financial situation.
Stay Off Social Media
Nowadays, everyone is connected digitally. While this can be great for maintaining long-distance relationships or catching up with old friends, it can also cause trouble when it comes to legal proceedings and insurance claims cases. Judges, lawyers, insurance company employees, and worker’s compensation teams all have access to the internet, just like everyone else. Anything you post, share, like, comment on, or otherwise engage with can be used against you. Even something small like commenting on a picture of your niece’s ballet recital can be used to determine that you’re not as injured as you claim to be.
To avoid this sort of trouble, stay off social media entirely until your case is dealt with in completion. Occasionally, a lawyer might suggest otherwise, and that’s absolutely okay if a professional deems your use of social media acceptable in your situation.
Seek Out Mental Health Support
If you’ve been injured at work, there are likely a lot of messy feelings that your mind and body are working through in addition to everything else. Legal proceedings or claims processes can be extremely stressful (some might even say they’re designed that way to encourage people to settle a little early just be free of the hassle). You might feel like you’re being attacked or watched or treated like a criminal when all you’ve done is get unlucky and suffer an injury. You might have symptoms of post-traumatic stress when it comes to returning to work. You might be suffering from depressing feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy if you can’t return to work as, for many of us, our identity is built on our jobs. You might be worried about how you’re going to meet all your financial obligations now that you can’t work or can’t work as well as you did before. Beyond this, sometimes medications people are given are great at solving a problem like physical pain or inflammation but can leave their moods all out of whack, leaving them having thoughts completely outside of the norm for them.
All of these feelings are normal. Seek out some form of mental health support to help ease the burden. This could be a great friend or a trusted family member. It might be a mental health professional. It should not be anyone from work (information travels shockingly fast when money is on the table) or anyone on social media.
The above tips should help you navigate the rough waters of being injured at work. Again, every situation is going to be a little different. For the best advice regarding your specific injury and workplace and needs and options, speak to an attorney.