Don't count on: the Company, the Insurer, your Union [if you have one], your spouse, your parents, your Attorney or your Doctor to "handle everything" for you.
Protect yourself and collect all of the information you can reguarding the incident. Do it right away!
Make copies and store with a family member or friend that you can trust. Because things happen (fire, flood, tornado, ...) try to have more than one copy of everything.
- Report the accident as soon as possible!
- your employer;
- crew leader,
- company nurse/doctor,
- or owner
- your union (if you have one);
- an attorney specializing in Worker's Compensation;
- Workers Compensation;
- OSHA if it is a serious accident or is a result of negligence on the part of the employer; If you are unsure who you should contact you can contact WisCOSH and we will help direct you to someone you can speak with about your situation.
Report it to :
- DO NOT let your employer send you to the hospital, clinic or doctor's office in a cab!
Do not let them have a coworker give you a ride. Nor should you let your employer drive you. Do not drive yourself. There are many reasons for this. If your employer thinks they can deny your W.C. claim they will try to reduce the number of indicators that you were hurt on the job. One of those indicaters is the ambulance. If an ambulance is called they will know why and will have records of when and why they were called and by whom. If someone other than an ambulance takes you it becomes easier for the employer to deny you were hurt at work.
Keep in mind also that if in transit you g into shock or you stop breathing or your heart stops the medics in the ambulance
- Immediately Start a Journal!
Hopefully you will already have a personal journal, diary or log of your daily workplace activities. If you do not start one right away! This is in addition to any records that your employer may have you make for them as they may not be available to you if/when you need them. If not start one immediately! Keep notes on everything that is said and done, who said it or did it, when, and any witnesses. If possible make copies of any forms or records you fill out for or give to your employer. Keep all of your notes in a bound periodical such as a spiral notebook, log book, calendar or a diary. This will help prove you haven't added anything later! It will help refresh your memory months later should you need to provide details to an insurer or government agenciy or in court.
- Keep Copies of EVERYTHING!!!
That includes any phone messages, letters, disability checks, workman's comp. checks, legal paperwork, minutes or notes from any meetings with the company, your union, any doctor(s) or specialists, the company doctor, ect... Keep additional copies of all of these at another location such as a safe deposit box, your parents, siblings or children's house.
- Pick Your Own Doctor as soon as you can do so carefully.
If you already have a primary care physician that feels comfortable treating your injury use him/her as they already know a lot about you. If they feel a specialist is needed get them to recommend/refer you to one. Do not be satisfied to use the company's doctor or clinic as they may be biased or swayed by pressure applied by the company. If there is any dispute as to whether you were injured or are capable of returning to work your doctor will have the say over any company doctor.
- Learn to Ask the Following Questions :
- How am I progressing in my healing?
- How serious is this injury/illness?
- What is the amount of healing/recovery expected?
- Is that average?
- Is this better than expected? Worse?
- How long is that likely to take?
- Are there any potential complications to watch for?
- What information have you provided my employer?
- What strategies are we taking?
- Are these normal procedures or radical measures?
- What are the deadlines for the work?
- What are the penalties for missing the deadline?
- When do we get back together with each other to review our work?
- Bring a witness to any doctor visits, attourney consultations, or meetings with the company or union whenever possible! If possible have more than one. Every time regardless of how short or routine the meeting is expected to be. Have them initial your diary or notes that they were there with you and heard and/or saw the same information that you did. If you can use the same person/people for multiple visits ask them to keep their own notes like yours.
- Get a copy of any incident report(s) and/or accident investigation(s).
Before you answer any questions speak with your attorney and doctor(s) as to what you should say and how to phrase it. They may prefer that you provide written response rather than verbal or vice versa. Don't forget to get information from the first responders including paramedics, police or others that may have been present or called to the scene of the incident. If you don't feel capable of doing so on your own [with a witness] ask your attorney to do it. Don't forget to check the information gathered for accuracy.
This is far from an exhaustive list of things to do and ask when you ae injured at work but it will hopefully help you start the process of wresting control back from those that will try to minimize your pain and suffering as well as their responsibility for it and magnify your blame. Much of what you need to do really needs to be started long before you get hurt or made ill.
The basics taken from a card prepared by:
Louisiana Injured Workers Union Education Fund
1 (800) 725-HURT
Additional information added by Jim Schultz from personal experience of being injured on the job and speaking to hundreds of other workers that were injured or made ill on the job.