If you get injured at work while performing your job, there are certain steps you should take to ensure the process of receiving workers’ compensation and proper healthcare for your injury, go as smoothly as possible. Your employer should have a procedure in place to ensure that you have (1) financial security and (2) appropriate medical care to allow you to get back to work if possible.
A work-related injury is not always obvious, and it may not be noticeable right away. It may get worse over time, such as a repetitive strain injury from using tools, engaging in repetitive motions, or sustaining awkward postures over long periods.
Don’t wait, if you get injured at work and believe that your injury is a result of your job, you should report it to your employer as soon as possible. You could be entitled to workers’ compensation, but there may be specific steps that must be followed to ensure that everything is properly documented.
Types of Work Injuries
Examples of common work-related injuries include:
- Musculoskeletal injuries (back and neck pain, sprains, strains, fractures)
- Repetitive-motion injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis)
- Eye injury
- Hearing injury
- Crushing injuries/trauma
- Auto accidents or collisions
- Occupational exposures (exposure to contaminated blood via needlestick or open wound, exposure to hazardous chemicals via inhalation or contact with skin)
Seek the Right Medical Care
If you get seriously injured at work, seek immediate emergency medical care. If your injury is not an emergency, your employer may ask you to seek medical care from a medical provider on their Designated Provider list.
Some workers’ compensation boards require an employee to use specific or approved healthcare providers. Talk to your Human Resources advisor about your options and your limitations, if any.
Report the Injury
If you get injured at work, your injury should be reported to a supervisor as soon as possible. There are strict filing deadlines and requirements within a period following the injury.
Your employer will advise you regarding how soon your report needs to be filed. Delaying your report may delay or cause you to lose your legal rights to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. Be sure to stay on top of the requirements or ask a close friend or family member to help you in your efforts.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Following the injury, you or your medical provider will need to complete an official compensation claim form and file it with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. In Washington this is the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) This is a state agency that regulates and oversees injured workers.
In WA your employer has responsibility for reporting severe injuries or fatalities to Labor & Industries within a specific timeline. However, it is the medical provider who will file the claim with a Report of Accident (ROA) form (also called the Application of Benefits). This can also be done through an online portal. Filing this is what assigns your formal claim number. Typically, this will include the injured workers descriptions of how this injury occurred. Some of the information collected may include:
- What happened and how the injury occurred
- Whether anyone else was involved
- The type of injury sustained and which parts of the body were affected
- Date, time, and the location where the injury occurred
- Medical treatment required and future treatment needs
If possible, it is wise to keep a copy of the form for your own records. In WA State the Department of Labor & Industries will contact your employer once the claim is filed. Note: Just because you have filed a claim does not mean that the claim is accepted. An employer may protest the reported injury/accident but you would have the right to appeal. If you are ever unsure of your benefits or rights, there are a number of attorneys in WA state who specialize in Worker’s Compensation and should provide a free consultation. You have the right to pursue this advice and to inquire with more than one attorney if you feel you need this assistance.
An independent medical examination may also be required for an unbiased assessment of your injury.
If accepted, your compensation claim should cover some or all your medical expenses. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be entitled to compensation for other factors such as ongoing rehabilitation, therapy, trauma counseling, and loss of earnings.
The word “rehabilitation” in the realm of workers’ compensation has different meanings. When most people think of rehabilitation, they think of physical therapy or rehabilitative care aimed at overcoming an injury and regaining functionality. Then there is the concept of “vocational” rehabilitation. In many states, injured workers who cannot return to their former employment are entitled to this type of rehabilitation at the expense of their employer’s workers’ compensation carrier.
The amount and type of vocational rehabilitation provided to injured employees varies. Some of the services to which an injured worker may be entitled include:
- On-the-job training
- Transferable skills analysis and testing
- Aptitude testing
- Resume and job application completion services
- Interview skills and techniques assistance
- Labor market surveys
- Job analyses
- Job search assistance
- Wage assessment evaluations
- Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling
- Ergonomics assessments
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodation assistance
- Medical case management
- Education and Tuition payments for retraining
Occupational Health Services
At Northwest Return to Work in Lynnwood, WA, our priority is helping employees get back to work faster so they can regain their financial security.
Our skilled medical professionals specialize in workers’ compensation injuries, and we offer personalized service for work-related injuries and illnesses.
If you would like to find out more about our quality workers’ compensation and injury care services for work-related illnesses and injuries, or to schedule a consultation with one of our providers, Contact Us Today. We look forward to helping you successfully recover so you can get back to enjoying life.
How to Learn More!
If you have been injured at work and want to learn more about how you can get back to work, please contact us at Northwest Return to Work in Lynnwood, WA, Washington’s premiere rehabilitation center for work injury. If you’ve been injured at work and need more information, begin with Labor and Industries, and start the process, you can find more information HERE.
CONTACT US to schedule an appointment or make a referral.
Josh Cobbley, OT
CEO, Northwest Return to Work