Workers injured on the job have a lot to be concerned about. In addition to focusing on recovering from their accident, they may be worrying about their inability to work and pay the bills. While you will likely be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, there are a few things you must do to protect your rights and recover compensation after an injury at work.
1) Notify Your Supervisor and Report the Accident
In order to recover workers’ compensation benefits, you must promptly inform your employer of the accident. In Ohio, under the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), managed care organizations are in charge of managing the medical and return-to-work services of your claim. You will need to file a claim by completing the First Report of Injury (FROI) form and submitting it to the BWC.
It is in your best interest to report your accident to your employer as soon as possible, even if you are not sure if you have suffered an injury. That way, an employer cannot deny that you were hurt at work.
Failure to report your accident in a timely fashion can result in the denial of your workers’ compensation benefits. Your report will ideally be in writing and identify coworkers and others who saw what happened.
2) Find Out if Anyone Witnessed Your Accident
Witness testimony can help you regardless of whether you are filing a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party claim. An eyewitness can establish how your injury occurred if your employer’s insurer denies your claim. Testimony can show that your injury occurred at work and that you were not engaged horseplay at the time. (Being under the influence or engaged in horseplay will bar your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits.)
If you file a third-party claim (discussed later), an eyewitness can establish how the third party’s negligence caused your accident.
3) Seek Medical Attention
It is important that you seek medical attention immediately after the accident, even if your injuries seem minor. Documenting injuries is critical to your workers’ compensation claim as well as your third party lawsuit.
If you are seriously injured, you should go directly to the emergency room. If not, make an appointment with your doctor to seek treatment. In Ohio, you may see the physician of your choice for the first visit. (After the first visit, you can receive treatment from any BWC-certified provider of your choosing.)
Make sure you inform your doctor of your managed care organization during treatment. The doctor will use this information to file your claim.
Note: If you decide to hold off on getting medical care, the insurer may claim that you have fabricated or are exaggerating your injuries..
4) Speak With an Attorney about Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Third Party Claims
Ohioans who sustain an injury at work are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, in exchange for these guaranteed benefits, workers give up the right to sue their employer. This is true even if your employer caused the accident. This way, workers’ compensation protects both employees and employers.
While workers cannot file claims or lawsuits against their employer, this does not mean they cannot do so against third parties. A third party might include another subcontractor on site, a property owner, a manufacturer, etc.
Filing a claim against a third party allows injured workers to recover compensation for lost wages and medical benefits (covered by workers’ compensation) as well as noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering and mental anguish.
For help determining whether or not you are eligible to file a third-party claim, call a work injury attorney from Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A.
5) Gather Facts about the Accident and Evidence of Negligence
While you do not need to prove negligence to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you will need to prove negligence against any defendants you name in your third party liability claim or lawsuit. To prove negligence, you will need to establish four basic elements:
Duty: You will need to show that the defendant(s) owed you a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent injury in the workplace.
Breach of Duty: You will need to show that there was a breach of this duty. For example, property managers must ensure their property is safe for anyone visiting. A manufacturer must create safe products and place visible warnings for any products with risks.
Causation: The next step will be proving that the workplace injury was the result of the defendants’ negligence. For example, if your injury occurred after the scaffolding you were standing on collapsed, you must be able to prove that the defective manufacturing caused it to collapse and injure you.
Damages: The final step will be proving that you were, in fact, injured at work and that you sustained actual damages. This should be easy to prove if you have thoroughly documented your injuries.
Where can I get help recovering compensation after a work injury?
Whether it is through workers’ compensation or a non-employer lawsuit, you can receive financial support for your injury.
If you have been injured on the job, it may be difficult to focus on your recovery when you have to worry about paperwork and gathering evidence for you lawsuit.
That is why hiring a legal professional who has experience dealing with workers’ compensation and third-party claims is essential. The attorneys at Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co. L.P.A. are understanding of your struggles and will do anything we can to make things easier for you.
If we take on your case, you can guarantee we will leave no stone unturned when it comes to collecting information and evidence to build your case. For more information on how our attorneys can help you, contact us at 419-843-6663.