Did you know that 2,654,700 people suffered a work injury in the US in 2020? Work injuries sadly aren’t as rare as you may think.
Furthermore, a quick look at gore sites such as Hoodsite and US CRIME, who regularly post gruesome freak accidents and work related death videos, it is therefore safe to assume that work accidents are unfortunately a prevalent part of society. And if you so happen to suffer an injury on the job, you may start asking yourself questions such as:
- Will you suffer permanent damage?
- How are you going to pay the bills?
- What should you do?
Since immigrants suffer more work injuries than US citizens, their situation is even more difficult, especially when there’s a language barrier. If this is your case, we advise you to do a good background check before you choose your lawyer because these cases can sometimes get complicated.
The good news is that regardless of your status, you can do something to protect your rights. However, you should take certain steps before suing your employer or filing for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Seek medical attention.
The first thing you should do is visit a doctor, especially if the injury you’ve suffered requires immediate emergency medical care. At this point, it doesn’t matter which medical facility you choose. Naturally, you should choose one that is nearby.
Don’t skip this step. Always see a doctor because there are cases when people don’t feel the pain right away but later. You may be in shock and your body may not react right away. Don’t risk unnecessary complications that could arise, even if the employer insists on you staying at work. Your health should be your priority.
Also, make sure the doctor’s familiar with all your injuries in detail as well as how you’ve sustained them. This is very important, especially if you later decide to put the case before a court.
After the initial doctor’s appointment may have to go to a follow-up doctor who has been previously approved by your employer. Note that this is not mandatory in all states. If you’re unsure who you should go to, you can ask your employer to provide more information.
- Report the injury to your employer.
This step is crucial because, in most states, employees are required to report what happened to their employers if they want to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The time frame to do this is very short in some states (we’re talking hours here), which is why you should do it as soon as possible. Failing to do so could put you at risk of losing some rights and protections.
Your employer most likely has a policy describing what you should do if you think you’ve suffered a work injury. You’ll probably need to fill out a form with information about the injury, so make sure to read the policy carefully and do everything by the book.
- Put everything you remember on a piece of paper.
Take a piece of paper and write down everything you remember about the accident. Make sure to write it in detail because even the smallest thing could help later in the process.
Think about the exact location of the injury, what exactly you were doing at that moment. Try to remember if there was anything that could have caused or contributed to the accident.
For instance, if you slipped and fell, maybe there was a puddle of water on the floor or some object that wasn’t supposed to be there.
It’s important to write everything down as soon as possible. The more time goes by, the less you’ll remember. This is completely normal, but if you want to preserve your memory, you have to write it all down immediately.
- Keep any evidence you may have.
Each time you visit a doctor, he or she will issue a medical report. Save all your medical documentation, including the bills you’ve paid. This documentation is valuable because it shows what kind of injury you’ve suffered and if there could be any long-term consequences due to the injury, both physical and financial.
Also, keep the clothes and shoes you’ve worn that day, especially if they got damaged. And, even if that’s not the case, you may have been given an inappropriate work uniform for your job position. For instance, maybe you should have been given better shoes so that you wouldn’t slip and hurt yourself.
Pictures can also be used as evidence and they’re very valuable. For that reason, you should make sure to take a couple of pictures of your injuries as soon as possible before you’ve been treated by a medical professional. You should also take pictures of injuries during the recovery to document your healing process and how long it took.
- Find a lawyer.
Once you’ve seen a doctor, reported the injury to your employer, wrote some notes about how you got injured, you should find yourself a lawyer.
It’s best to hire someone experienced at work injury cases because they’ll be able to tell you whether you should sue your employer or file for workers’ compensation benefits, depending on your unique situation.
A skilled and experienced lawyer will also know if you can file for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or other government benefits, which is something you want to look into as well.
If you’re unsure how to find the best work injury lawyer, here are some tips:
Ask your friends or acquaintances.
If you know someone who went through a work injury, you can ask them about their experience and the lawyer that represented them. Keep in mind that though personal recommendations tend to be reliable, it’s best to do some additional research online and meet the lawyer in person before you make your choice.
Do your research online.
You can always research different lawyers and go from there. There are a lot of websites where you can read the reviews on different lawyers and law offices. Once you’ve found someone you like, you can schedule an appointment with them and see what they have to say.
Rely on your instincts.
While you should make your decision solely based on a hunch, you shouldn’t completely ignore it. Of course, you should meet with the lawyer in person before you make a decision. However, if you don’t like or trust the lawyer right off the bat, you shouldn’t work with them.