Injured at work? What do I do now? Getting injured at work is often a very scary thing in life. You depend upon your job for income, keeping your family secure and paying your bills. When you’re injured at work you also may worry about whether you will be fired because you make a claim. Will your company hold your job for you? Will you be compensated for your injury, time and trouble? All of these things are important questions that need immediate answers.
Getting answers to those sooner rather than later almost always relieves stress and lets you understand what lies ahead.
What to do:
- Make sure you promptly report any injury to your manager or human resources department as soon as it happens.
- Make sure you talk to any witnesses to your injury and have them sign brief statements acknowledging that they saw your injury or were present right after it happened.
- Keep a diary or timeline of events following your work injury. It will come in handy.
- Make sure your treating physician knows the date of your injury and how it happened.
- Keep track of your mileage to and from doctor’s appointments if your travel is outside the county of your employer.
- Ask for a second opinion if you are unhappy with the treating physician. Under Indiana law, your employer has a right to direct your treatment. However, they will often change your physician if you are unhappy with his “bedside manner”.
- You should seriously consider opting for an independent medical exam following your release from the treating physician. This is FREE and is one right you have under Indiana law. Many times, the independent medical examiner will suggest treatment not previously offered to you.
- Make sure to ask the treating physician what future medical treatment you may need following your release. This may include ongoing physical therapy, prescription medications, injections, orthotic devices, etc.
- Contact your employer to return to work if the treating physician places you back to work on “light duty”. If you fail to do so, your employer may terminate you.
- Exercise your right to obtain a second opinion on your permanent partial impairment rating (PPI rating). Many times, the PPI rating from the employer’s physician is low.
- Contact an attorney if you have any questions regarding your rights under the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act. You DO NOT have to pay attorneys’ fees until a recovery is made. We offer FREE consultations on all worker’s compensation cases.
What not to do:
- Do not wait until after the weekend to report a Friday injury and do not wait until the next morning to report a late afternoon injury.
- Do not assume the insurance company calculated your average weekly wage correctly when determining your weekly temporary total disability (TTD rate) amount. Many times, their calculations are low.
- Do not settle your case completely for a “full and final sum” or under Section 15 until you have spoken to an attorney.
- Do not bother the worker’s compensation insurance company every day with phone calls.
- Do not let the nurse case manager from the insurance company tell the treating physician what treatment is best for you and/or when you should be returning to work. The nurse case manager is hired by the insurance company and has their best interests in mind.
- Do not argue with or hang up on the insurance adjuster when discussing your case.
- Do not skip any medical appointments as this could cause the insurance company to stop your weekly benefits.
- Do not settle any auto accident claim or other injury claim before you settle your worker’s compensation claim if your injury work arose from an “on the job” car accident or was caused by a third party not associated with your employer.
- Do not discuss any aspect of your case on Facebook or any other computer website.
- Do not work or play outside of any physician-prescribed restrictions during your recovery. The insurance company may be watching you.
- Do not hesitate to contact our office with any other questions regarding your worker’s compensation case. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to show the company was at fault?
No. Indiana Workers Compensation Laws are a “no fault” system. However, if you engage in certain intentional acts (such as horseplay, criminal activity, etc.) that might be a defense to prevent any recovery. However, simple negligence or accidents at the work place are all that is required to trigger the requirement that you be compensated.
What am I entitled to if I am injured?
The law sets forth essentially 3 types of recovery. First, if you are off work for more than a week, you will receive temporary pay. It is at a reduced rate, and it is based upon a percentage of your average weekly wage. The employer also is obligated to pay any medical bills related to the injury. Lastly, the employer is required to compensate you for any permanent partial impairment. If the injuries are severe (or resulting in death) the permanent impairment amounts are larger. If there is no permanent injury or only a minor injury, then the amount is smaller.
If I make a claim, will this come out of my employer’s pocket?
No. All employers are required to either be self-insured or carry insurance. Most choose to have some level of insurance, and therefore an insurance company will be paying for these benefits – not your employer.
Can my employer fire me if I make a claim?
Legally, an employer cannot fire an employee for making a Workers Compensation Claim. There are some complicated rules about whether they have to hold your job if you cannot perform your job after recovery. Also, sometimes employers might find another reason to terminate you. Unfortunately, that happens in the real world. Although not allowed by law, sometimes it can be difficult to prove.
Do I need a lawyer for a Workers Compensation Claim?
Generally, if the employer acknowledges the claim, you may not have to hire an attorney. Even if you don’t hire an attorney initially, you can always hire one later if you feel there is a question about the amount that they are proposing to pay.
If I do hire a lawyer, how much does it cost?
The Indiana Workers Compensation Laws have a schedule for the amount of Attorney’s Fees. Your attorney will go over in detail with you the percentages and how those are paid and upon what benefits those are paid.
How long do I have to make a claim?
Generally, you have up to two years to make a claim for Workers Compensation. However, you should immediately notify your employer if you are injured on the job. Many times, if the company doesn’t know about it, they will assume you got injured in another manner (perhaps at home over the weekend), and they will then deny the claim. Thus, notifying them immediately is always important.
What to bring to your first appointment
- Any forms from your employer such as First Report of Injury, Wage History sheet, etc.
- Any letters you have received from the worker’s compensation insurance company.
- Any medical reports, papers or off-work slips from any treating physicians.
- Any photos of your injuries or accident scene.
- Any statements from witnesses or co-workers.
- Any letters you have received from attorneys representing your employer.