What to do when injured on the job.
This guide will provide you with a list of important steps in pursuing a workers' compensation claim to make sure your claim gets approved.
Immediately report the injury.Employers will always fight a case that is not immediately reported. If not documented, it gives the company ammunition to allege that the accident did not occur on the date and time later claimed and that the injury actually occurred off the job. Some employers will fire employees for failure to timely report an injury. In addition, many many times employers will tell employees that if the accident isn't reported, then a claim cannot be pursued. This could not be further from the truth! Ohio law allows a claim to be filed within one year of the date of injury.
Obviously, a reported accident is more likely to be covered than an unreported accident. However, many workers experience aches and pains throughout their shift that typically go away. There are occasions where that simple muscle strain thought to be nothing at the time could later be determined to be something much more serious, such as a herniated disc or a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder. This is why I advise people at my seminars "when it doubt, file a report."
In addition, there are occasions that an injury doesn't happen with a specific event, rather gradually over the course of time. These "wear and tear" injuries are covered in Ohio and most other states. Some of the conditions that are wear and tear type claims are carpal tunnel syndrome, impingement syndrome of the shoulder, ulnar neuropathy and other hand, wrist and shoulder disorders. My best advice to workers that experience symptoms of hand, wrist, knee, ankle or shoulder pain to complete an incident report at that point in time where you start believing you will require medical attention. Again, not all injuries involve a specific on the job accident. In order to best protect yourself and your family, seek to complete the report as soon as possible after the pain starts.
Obtain coworkers statements.Request anyone that was near you when the incident occurred to complete a statement confirming what they know and saw. Too many times, even after completing an incident report, the employer will somehow lose the report or fail to offer it to you or your attorney. Having a witness statement confirms your version of the events and another way to get your claim covered.
Seek immediate medical attention.Seeking medical attention soon after the injury not only starts you on the road to recovery but also confirms that the incident occurred as you described, Make sure you are consistent in your description. Many employers will attempt to discredit injured workers where the description of accident on the injury report is inconsistent with how the injury was described to your physician. Most likely, you would have told the same story but medical providers are busy and may not fully listen to your story. Thus, it is very useful to require medical personnel to read back what they documented to ensure that it is accurate. This is another way to make sure your claim gets allowed!
File a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.In order to obtain benefits for your injury, a claim application must be filed. As noted above, the application must be filed within one year of the date of injury. Filing the application starts the process of obtaining a claim number and ultimately a determination as to whether your injury is valid.
Seek legal advice.Most attorneys that represent injured workers provide free initial legal consultations. Seeking advice doesn't mean hiring an attorney. If you are unsure about what to do and want to know your legal rights in your claim, the best place to go is an attorney that specializes in this area of practice. You are under no obligation to sign with that attorney. Most lawyers will gladly answer your questions and concerns about your injury and what to expect. Many times, after listening to a potential client, I advise them that they do not need an attorney at the present time but of course leave the door open to return should they run into problems with their claim. My firm, Schaffer and Associates, collectively has over 50 years of experience representing those injured and disabled and will gladly discuss any questions, concerns or problems you may have with the pursuit of your claim!