Seeing as though I am in my mid-twenties and the job market isn’t so hot (obviously), it’s safe to say that a ton of my friends are in the industry. They graduated from college and weren’t able to find a legit job where they could put their hard-earned degree to use so they opted for the easier route: serving. I did it too, but eventually found a position where I could put my very expensive, private university journalism degree to use. This isn’t a rant on the weak job market, though. I bring this up because my good friend recently got injured at work. He works at a very high end steak house and was tossing some things out when a broken wine bottle slid across his hand and split it open nearly to the bone. Eek! If he worked at a not-so-great restaurant, they probably would have sent him home for the night and hoped he was A.O.K. Thankfully, they did the right thing, sent him to the hospital and were prepared to pay for the possible reconstructive nerve surgery that the doctors thought he needed. This is what an employer should do when an employee is injured at work.
People get hurt at work everyday. They slip on a wet floor, their back gives out or they trip on the stairs. It’s an every day occurrence; accidents happen. However, when you get hurt at your place of work your employer has certain obligations to take care of you. Actually, it’s the law. That’s why employers must pay insurance for worker’s compensation. Or they should be be anyways. If they don’t, it can mean big trouble for them when an employee gets injured and they have to deal with the outcome. For clarification purposes, worker’s compensation is defined as “a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence.” Woo! Thank you Wikipedia.
Even though employers are by law required to pay for this, if you don’t take the correct and necessary steps after getting injured in their building, then they can take action to deny you the compensation you deserve. That is why you need to know what to do in the event you do get injured. So take note and follow these steps if you ever get injured at your place of work.
1. Notify Your Employer
As soon as you get hurt or injured, let your employer know immediately. If your injury is serious, like my friend’s above, then your employer will obviously know because you have to go to a hospital immediately or seek the care of a doctor. If it’s less immediate, like a back injury or a fall, you need to let your employer know right away. It’s best to put this in writing as well since some employers may be shady about it. If there were any witnesses to your injury, have them write it down as well. If your company is prepared, then it’s likely you will have to fill out a form or report documenting your injury.
2. Seek Medical Care
As stated above, if you need immediate care then you need to take an ambulance to the hospital to get help. It is the employer’s responsibility to pay for the ambulance as well as your hospital visit. This does NOT come out of your pocket. When you get to the hospital or to your doctor, make sure you tell them too that this injury is work-related and happened while you were on the job. If you don’t seek medical attention right away, your employer can use that against you in your claim for worker’s compensation. “Well, they weren’t really hurt because they didn’t go to the doctor or the hospital.” Don’t feel “bad” or “guilty” that your employer has to take on this responsibility. Do what you have to do. Even if they are the nicest and best employer ever, you don’t really know what they are capable of or what they will try to get out of.
If your employer tries to talk you out of going to the hospital, don’t listen. This is a selfish request on their part and probably means they’re doing the wrong thing by not paying worker’s compensation insurance. That’s not your problem. Seek medical attention right away.
If you have a lawyer, speak to them about this right away. If you don’t have a lawyer, make sure you find one and tell them what happened. There are a lot of forms you will have to fill out and it can be confusing and overwhelming. Especially if you are injured. On top of that, your employer will likely try and get out of this and pay the least amount possible. This isn’t right or fair and you need someone on your side to fight for you.
Getting hurt at work happens. Not all employers will be shady about it and try to wrong you, but the truth is you really don’t know. That is why it is so important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.