How to Make a Workplace Accident Claim
In almost every single instance of a workplace injury, your workplace accident compensation claim must be handled through the workers' compensation process. In all fifty states, the legislatures passed workers' compensation laws in order to ensure that workers are able to have medical costs and lost wages covered by their employers. While the workers' compensation system provides you with broader protection in many ways, it is an exclusive remedy system. Essentially, this means that your only remedy if you are a covered employee (which almost everyone is) will be to go through this workers' compensation system.
How to File a Workers' Compensation Claim
The exact method of filing a workers' compensation claim is going to vary based on where you live. However, as a general matter, to file a workers' compensation claim follow these guidelines:
- You will need to notify your employer of the work injury. This is often done with a "first notice of injury" or "first notice of incident" report. Such forms are available from your employer or your state workers' compensation board. The notice must be provided to your employer within a set amount of time after the injury. In some states, you have as little as a few days to file the notice.
- Once you have filed notice, you'll need to keep a careful record of all medical costs. In some cases, you might have to get medical care through a doctor your employer selects for you, or you may have to choose from a list of doctors that your employer gives you. You must attend all doctor's appointments, as not doing so can jeopardize your claim.
- You'll need to submit your application for workers' compensation, along with medical records and testimony from your doctor. You may also need to submit some type of statement of your wages if you are seeking lost income or disability benefits.
Your employer's workers' compensation insurer will review your claim and either accept or deny benefits. As a general matter, as long as your injury arose as a direct result of your work, benefits cannot be denied. The workers' compensation rules dictate that, unlike with a traditional personal injury lawsuit, you do not have the obligation to prove negligence in order to make a successful claim. If your claim is denied, then you will have the option to appeal the claim.
To ensure your rights are protected during this process and for help navigating the workers' compensation system, it is always in your best interest to get help from a lawyer as soon as you can after the incident has occurred.