No one wants to imagine that they’ll be an injured worker. Even if you work at a dangerous manufacturing plant or in the construction industry, as long as you’re taking care to wear a hard hat, goggles, and any other protective gear you should, there’s no reason for you to suffer a personal injury or illness.
Nevertheless, injured workers abound. Private employers reported that 2.8 million workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in 2019, which is the same as in 2018. Whether we like it or not, accidents happen. Work injuries can happen to anyone through no one’s fault. Or, sometimes, it is someone’s fault. If you were injured at work, the fact is that you would be healthy had you been at home. And that means that you’re not only eligible for, but deserving of, workers’ compensation. But it’s bad enough managing the mountains of medical bills that you now have. Dealing with a workers’ compensation claim on top of that is literally adding insult to injury. You should be healing, not filling out paperwork! If you want to find out how to navigate the tribulations of workers’ compensation, read on for a few tips.
1. Get an attorney.
The first thing to know about a workers’ compensation claim is that you don’t want to deal with it independently. There are so many ins and outs to the legal system, not to mention that state laws differ from one to the next. That is to say, a workers’ compensation case in California has a different statute of limitations than the same workplace accident being brought before a court in the state of Illinois.
All this is to say that if you want to focus on your medical treatment and get better and not tear your hair out because of the legal minutia, get yourself an attorney who understands workers’ compensation law or a social security attorney if your injury has rendered you disabled. You should also make sure to work with an attorney at a local law firm. If you live in the Chicago area, you need a law firm that understands Illinois law’s intricacies, so look for a workers compensation lawyer in Chicago who can manage your lawsuit for you with ease. With the right personal injury attorney by your side, you can get a fair settlement from your employer’s commercial insurance company regardless of the serious injury you may have incurred. Many personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation, so you can see if your personal injury claim holds water without losing any money on attorney fees.
2. Prepare yourself for court.
Insurance companies do not like to pay out money, even if the workers’ compensation is deserved because of a devastating work injury. After all, insurance companies are in the business of making money, not giving it away to any injured employee who applies for workers’ compensation. Therefore, on behalf of the employer, the attorney will be doing everything they can to disprove your claim.
You need to make sure you have all your information lined up—medical expenses, medical records, and the like. You also need to make sure that you look your sharpest when you head into a courtroom. It would help if you looked reliable and trustworthy for a judge to believe that your workplace injury was, in fact, at the fault of your employer. So you’d better believe that your outerwear matters. A nice jacket or blazer over some blouses and skirts will help, and if you happen to be a petite size, you should know that there are petite jackets available for affordable prices online. Please do not wear your favorite tee to court, no matter how lucky you think it is. Remember, look the part and let your attorney handle the legal jargon.
3. Document your workplace injury.
One thing you need to organize before filing your personal injury lawsuit is all the proof and documentation. Part of this, as discussed, is getting your medical records organized. But part of it is also personal photos that show exactly how your workplace injury or illness was incurred. Were you working without a mask and exposed to noxious fumes? Was the machinery faulty? Did you develop carpal tunnel syndrome or suffer a construction accident? Make sure that there is photographic evidence of all of it.
Personal photos are easy to obtain (we all have a smartphone in our pocket these days), but you need to store photos as well. Make sure you have a photo storage app that’s easy to navigate from a mobile phone app. That’s the only way you’ll be able to keep tabs on all the personal photos you need to send your lawyer and know you won’t have to delete them for lack of storage space.
4. Reach out to loved ones.
Suffering a work-related injury is hard, not to mention navigating a work injury claim and the mental health crises that may come from facing a barrage of legal advice and medical advice. That’s why it’s in your best interest to reach out to your family and friends. Tell them what happened, but don’t pretend that everything’s okay.
Depending on the various types of injuries that may occur, you may find it more difficult to do household tasks like laundry, dishes, or going to the grocery store. You may find yourself facing anxiety or depression, especially if you’ve suffered a permanent injury or temporary total disability. The stress of the medical expenses and being out of work is enough to make most of us not want to get out of bed. Don’t make things harder by avoiding help. Your workplace accident isn’t your fault, and you aren’t weaker for needing some support.
If you feel uncomfortable baring your soul to family and friends, you can always consider a therapist or counselor. Even a group therapy session or support group with other folks who have suffered a workplace injury may make you feel less alone. Again, despite the many stigmas against mental health support, this is no time to let your pride get the best of you. If you need to speak to a therapist—reach out. The most important thing, after all, is your health. Both physical and emotional