How to Protect Yourself If You've Been Hurt at Work: A Step-By-Step Guide
About 3 million Americans are injured every year at work, leaving many with short- and long-term disabilities. Workers’ compensation insurance can help cover many of the costs associated with job-related accidents — but a lot of employees don’t understand how the workers’ comp process works.
The team at Medical Access has extensive experience in helping injured workers get the care they need to restore health and function, including workers’ compensation medical exams required by the insurance program. If you’ve been injured at work, here’s what you should do to protect yourself and your future.
What to do following your injury
Certainly, the first thing to do after you’ve been injured is to seek medical care. That could mean initially having first aid at your workplace or going right to an emergency room, depending on the extent of your injury.
Once you’ve received care, the next steps you take are critically important for ensuring your workers’ compensation claims process proceeds smoothly. Here’s what to do.
Step #1: Write down what happened
While the injury is “fresh” in your mind, write down a detailed description of what happened, including the events leading up to and following your injury, as well as the injury itself. This record is important for your workers’ compensation filing, and it also provides your doctor with the information necessary to ensure you receive the most appropriate care.
Step #2: Report the injury right away
Workers’ compensation claims follow a timeline: You need to complete each step before established deadlines. Ideally, you should report the injury to your employer immediately, but certainly no later than 30 days. Otherwise, your claim could be denied.
Step #3: Give your employer written notice
It’s fine to let your employer know verbally about your injury, but it’s also important to submit a written notice and keep a dated copy in your file or email folder.
Step #4: File a claim with the state workers’ compensation commission
Your employer should have these forms on file, but if they don’t, you can find the proper forms on the state workers’ compensation commission websites for Maryland or Virginia. Your employer is required to fill out and submit a claim within 10 days of the injury being reported, as well.
Step #5: Schedule a medical exam
The workers’ compensation claim process requires a medical exam from a qualified workers’ compensation doctor to determine the extent of your injuries. When you call our office to make an exam appointment, be sure to indicate that the exam is for an injury that happened on the job so that our team follows the proper procedures for your claim.
Step #6: Keep records of everything
Record all your injury-related work absences, your doctor’s appointments, and all out-of-pocket costs, including costs for any copays or prescriptions. These expenses are typically paid for under workers’ compensation, and keeping track of them while your claim is under review ensures you’ll be repaid once the claim is approved.
Step #7: Be prompt and attentive
The workers’ compensation claims process is complex. Keep a calendar of all your upcoming deadlines, hearings, and appointments, and don’t skip any. Stay in touch with your doctor and work supervisor throughout the entire process.
Step #8: Follow your doctor’s guidance
Be sure to follow all recommended treatments and therapies. Otherwise, your claim could be challenged. In some cases, you may need occupational therapy to enable you to resume your duties. Only return to work when you’re medically cleared to do so. If your doctor advises and approves modifications to your work, be sure to follow that guidance when you return to your job.
Get help for your workplace injury
With practices in Germantown, Rockville, and Beltsville, Maryland, and Alexandria, Woodbridge, and McLean, Virginia, Medical Access provides area patients with the care they need to stay healthy following a workplace injury. To learn how our team can help you, call or book an appointment online today.